Posted by: Administrator | 18 March, 2005

Musharraf on Frontline with Kamran Shahid and related controversy

Interview given on 13th September 2009

A particular section of this interview by General Musharraf, was misquoted and misinterpreted by the international, Indian and Pakistani media. Indians including the Indian Minister for external affairs Shahsi Tharoor , accused General Musharraf and Pakistan of misusing the US aid, and cited these media reports as proof of Pakistan’s mala-fide intentions in its WoT. Please read a wonderful article and refute by Mr. Nadir Hassan below courtesy Newsline and view that particular video at YouTube.

Misquoting Musharraf

A politician claiming that his words have been taken out of context is like a schoolchild using the dog-ate-my-homework excuse. But former president Pervez Musharraf’s anger at the international media for distorting his words is, in fact, justified.

On September 13, Musharraf gave an interview to local TV station, Express News. The interviewer, Kamran Shahid, asked Musharraf if there was any truth to accusations that he had diverted aid meant to fight the Taliban for use against India. As interpreted by the international, Indian and Pakistani media, Musharraf seemed to confirm that Pakistan had misused US aid. Even Indian Minister for External Affairs Shahsi Tharoor cited these media reports as proof of Pakistan’s mala-fide intentions. Pakistan’s High Commissioner in Britain, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, without pausing to explain how this issue was a part of his job description, berated Musharraf for damaging Pakistan’s reputation.

Amidst the frenzy, no one bothered to check Musharraf’s words or the context in which he spoke.

Here is what Musharraf did say:

The interview is in Urdu so I have translated it below. Musharraf’s answer to the question about diversion of aid begins at about 3:20 in the video.

The interviewer asked the former president if there was any truth to reports coming from journalists like Ahmed Rashid that Pakistan had diverted US aid to the eastern border. Musharraf’s reply was typically bellicose.

Whoever is saying this, be it Ahmed Rashid, I would like to say this to them: “Don’t dabble in subjects which you barely understand.” Whoever has given us assistance, be it in the form of money or weapons, should know the organisation of the Pakistan Army and how it is deployed. The units and regiments in our army are rotated, at some point they could be in Kashmir, then they can go to Sindh, then Balochistan and if there is an operation in North Waziristan some will go there. Some will go to Swat, they can go anywhere. So, equipment, whether we buy it or it is given to us, they go to the units, the units hold them. We don’t just keep them in some store. Lets say there is a unit stationed in North Waziristan. Now, this unit gets American equipment. After that, no one can say that this unit has to remain in North Waziristan for a hundred years. They have a tenure of one to one-and-a-half years. I think it is one year. After one year, they have to move. Maybe they have to move to the Punjab border otherwise India might come into Lahore. This unit will take its equipment along when it goes. This equipment isn’t collected in some store room. So, whoever says this (that Pakistan has diverted military aid meant to fight terrorism) doesn’t understand how Pakistan operates. You can’t say that this is American equipment that can only be used against the Taliban and so it should be left in the mountains (when the unit moves). Units keep their equipment; wherever they go they will take the equipment with them. You can’t say that this equipment has come from America or Britain and it will be used here and that this equipment is Chinese so it will be used in such and such place. Please explain this to Ahmed Rashid for me.

The interviewer then asked Musharraf is these weapons can be used against India. Here is Musharraf’s hypothetical reply to the hypothetical question:

Absolutely. We will use these weapons wherever there is a threat to Pakistan. If there is a threat from the Taliban or Al-Qaeda we will use the weapons against them; if there is a threat from India we will use them there.

The interviewer further gpaded Musharraf into asking if we ever used these weapons against India. Musharraf never directly answered the question, preferring to ratchet up the rhetoric instead:

Whatever we did was right. We need to ensure Pakistan’s security. Wherever the threat comes from, we will use full force there

Miusharraf’s non-reply prompted the question of whether the US was upset about the use of military aid.

What do we care if America or anyone else gets upset. We have to look after our security and wherever there is a threat we have to use full force. America, in fact the whole world, should know that we will never compromise our security and whatever equipment is there, we will use it everywhere.

It is clear from this exchange that  a combination of a typically-rambling reply from Musharraf, the bellicosity that is an essential part of his character and journalistic laziness spurred this ‘controversy.’

An additional point needs to made: Even if Musharraf had revealed that weaponry given by the US was used on the Indian border, what’s all the fuss about? The US has always known and, at times, even encouraged such use. Lawrence Korb, a senior fellow at American Progress and a senior adviser to the Center for Defence Information, in his testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance on December 12, 2007 gave the breakdown of US aid to Pakistan. He explained that 60% of this aid shouldn’t be considered aid at all since it went to the Coalition Support Funds to repay the Pakistan government for services rendered in the war on terror. Another 15% was in the form of direct cash transfers to stabilise Pakistan’s economy. A further 10% consisted of development and humanitarian funds. The remaining 15% of aid, which equaled $1.6 billion, was in the form of security assistance. Korb said in his testimony, “The Pakistanis have used the majority of these funds to purchase major weapons systems, such as F-16s, for possible use in a conventional war with India…” So, not only does the US know that Pakistan is using military aid against India, it has actually sold us the weapons knowing their ultimate purpose.

Despite this, the media somehow managed to make a denial of impropriety from Musharraf sound like an admission of guilt.

Many Thanks to Mr. Nadir Hassan, who is a senior assistant editor at Newsline. He has previously worked at various national and international media organizations.



  1. ThnxXx being e-updated through new news at this web-link

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