Posted by: Administrator | 17 February, 2007

President with Karan Thapar in ‘Devils Advocate’

9 January 2006 – Exclusive: Karan with Musharraf – II

In Part II of an exclusive interview on Devil’s Advocate, General Musharraf talks about the criticism he faces within his own country and responds to his critics.

Thapar: In Part I, we spoke about some of the concerns that the Indian side has with the peace process. Let us now talk about the sort of response and reactions you have had in Pakistan. The irony is you left India in April a hero in Indian eyes, but you returned to a country where you were accused of capitulation and betraying Kashmir. Do you have problems with the Pakistan press?

President Musharraf: No, not at all. There is no problem. The press is absolutely free. So, there is criticism always. But I think on the Kashmir process, generally, the people are massively in support of whatever I am doing.

Thapar: But not the press. Let me quote what Dawn said about the joint statement you signed with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in April. They compared you to Neville Chamberlain in 1939. They said your visit to Delhi was a mini-Munich. They said you had abandoned Kashmir.

President Musharraf: Absolute nonsense, that is what I would like to say. But I know Pakistanis and even the media of Pakistan are massively supportive of whatever I am doing for Kashmir.

Thapar: If u say Dawn is absolute nonsense, then let me quote The Nation, a second paper. In its editorial, it says: “The Joint Statement clearly points to one conclusion, the Pakistani leadership has succumbed to the pleasure to proceed with normalisation of its relations with India.”

President Musharraf: If you take editorials only of a few newspapers, there are articles being written. There is a media debate going on. So, you just pick out a sentence from a Dawn editorial or a Nation editorial, that does not reflect anything. These are personal views of the individual who has written the editorial.

Thapar: So you discount Dawn and the Nation.

President Musharraf: It is nonsense, because the nation doesn’t believe it. Even the person who has written this editorial, I am very sure doesn’t believe it now.

Thapar: That’s an aspersion you are casting on him. Let’s leave that aside.

President Musharraf: Absolutely.

Thapar: The point I am making is that you weren’t simply criticised in April. In a strange way, the criticism that you faced has become more stringent since then. One of the concerns being expressed in the Pakistani press today is that Musharraf is making all the concessions and the Indian side won’t budge, as Ayaz Amir, one of your country’s foremost commentators said. From your smile I can make out perhaps that you are not fond of the man. But in October, one of your foremost commentors said: “The composite dialogue is settling into a familiar pattern. India doesn’t budge to induce movement, Pakistan throws in a concession. Nothing happens from India, Pakistan makes more concessions.”

President Musharraf: You select people who are unbalanced. He is not a balanced man. Let me say and please project this on the TV. I am sending a message to Ayaz Amir that he is an unbalanced man. You read any of his articles, they are all unbalanced. He doesn’t know what he is talking. Now, if you take his article and think that this is Pakistan’s view, I am afraid I am not agreeing with you at all.

I am very clear about Pakistan’s views and I keep my hand on the pulse of Pakistan. I know what their view is: the Pakistan public, Pakistan media, Pakistan intelligence, Pakistan bureaucracy.

Unfortunately, in editorials there are vested interests, which I don’t want to get involved in. Editorials do not represent the view of Pakistan. If you want to gauge the view of Pakistan, gauge it from the media in its entirety. Gauge it from public opinion and various other forums. So don’t just quote Ayaz Amir and say that this is Pakistan’s view.

Thapar: But I was quoting more than just one person. The Dawn, Nation and let me remind you of a third one — a comment in the Pakistan press — this time it’s about how the handling of the Kashmir dispute links up with the army. It says: “It is hard to figure out which is more dangerous. The military at war or the military at peace.” Because, they are saying that you are making concessions and India is not responding to you. India is simply putting up a stonewall. Does it worry you that even the Army’s handling is coming into question?

President Musharraf: Army’s handling! I didn’t get your question. Let me tell you Karan, this is not a Banana Republic Army. This is an army which has fought wars. It’s an extremely disciplined army. It is totally loyal and committed to me and I know that. So, I don’t even want to comment on that quote. Army is for Pakistan. It will do anything for Pakistan’s interests.

Thapar: Does the army support the Kashmir initiative that you have been taking?

President Musharraf: 200 per cent… 1000 per cent.

Thapar: Can I quote to you from The Post dated December 27, 2005, “There is a powerful clique of religious parties and their supporters within the military establishment in Pakistan who are sympathetic to the jehadist wars especially in Kashmir.” Do they support your concepts or ideas of a solution?

President Musharraf: This is, in brief, nonsense. If they were there, they will be out of the army tomorrow.

Thapar: You mean you will throw them out?

President Musharraf: Absolutely. You think I won’t be worth my salt… if I am the Army Chief and these people are doing that? This is not a Banana Republic Army.

I am in-charge here and the generals and core commanders are in-charge of core. There is no question of anyone doing this here. They will be out tomorrow morning.

Thapar: You mean the core commanders also?

President Musharraf: I have selected the core commanders. So how can they be against me?

Thapar: One of the comments made by Indians, and it’s made with a sense of concern is that the army doesn’t seem to be directly involved in the peace process. And this leads people in India to question whether the core commanders support your peace process.

President Musharraf: These are unfortunate aspersions that get created in India… may be through the media, because I keep reading your magazines. Yes, they write articles, which are in many way distortions of facts and truths.

I always take everyone along. I hold core commanders’ conferences every month. One of them was held just two days back. I discuss everything there and I believe in commanding through ownership, through acceptance of my views… getting views, discussing them and then coming to conclusions. Each one and everyone in the army is with me and they are supportive of the peace process.

Thapar: And as you said that those who are not with you, even if they are core commanders, they will be thrown out.

President Musharraf: Absolutely. This is the discipline of the army. One of the aspects of leadership that I believe in is unity of command. You discuss so that there is ownership. So that everyone participates and then you give a decision. Now if anyone is not part that decision, then he is not a member of that team. And he should be out.

Thapar: So what you are saying to the people of India and Pakistan is that “I, Pervez Musharraf, am in control. I am the Army Chief and the Army will do what I say.”

President Musharraf: Absolutely. Is there any doubt? 200%. That is the way it is.

Thapar: Let me put to you another set of concerns that people seem to have about your capacity to deliver on the peace process. They look at you and say increasingly that here is a head of state hemmed in by serious problems. The Taliban seems to have a freehand in Waziristan. You have insurgency of some sort in Baluchistan. You had a serious earthquake in Kashmir where the consequences continue to trouble you and in addition, the Kalabagh issue has inflamed, if not seriously divided, opinions in Sindh. In those situations, can you deliver on the Kashmir peace proposal?

President Musharraf: I think you are taking a very exaggerated look at everything. There is no insurgency in Baluchistan. There are few tribal warlords. They have been against Pakistan throughout our history. Now, if they show any activity, that is anti-Pakistan, we will sort them out.

Thapar: Even if it takes helicopter gunships to do so?

President Musharraf: Now, don’t think this is in the whole of Baluchistan.

You should have seen the Cabinet meeting held recently by the chief minister where they were demanding action against them. This is the latest Cabinet meet. But you don’t quote them. You just pick out any critic like Ayaaz Amir saying something.

Thapar: It is not critics. I simply want to ask, do you have the time to carry on an initiative with India when you have so many serious problems at home?

President Musharraf: Obviously. If your leaders cannot deal with a number of subjects, than I think he is no leader. As far as the earthquake is concerned, we are managing it exceptionally well. There is an organisation involved, I back them up. Yes, I am involved and I back them up.

Thapar: You are not daunted by problems at home? They are not going to undermine your peace process?

President Musharraf: Not at all. And what Taliban is doing in Waziristan? We have controlled everything. We have captured their sanctuaries. They are on the run.

Thapar: Even on Friday, papers said that 11 people were killed in Waziristan and the hand of suspicion is pointed towards the Taliban.

President Musharraf: So, what is the problem if 11 people have been killed? How many people die in India? There are people dying in the Northeast of India, in Kashmir and in Bihar. There are so many insurgencies in India also. There are about 18 insurgencies going on. Is India breaking up?

Thapar: So, you feel regardless of the problems you face at home you have the capacity and the strength to continue with the peace process?

President Musharraf: Absolutely. There is no problem and please don’t exaggerate it. No insurgency in Baluchistan. No problem of Taliban and we are handling the earthquake very well. So I am not at all bogged down.

Thapar: Many people say than General Musharraf’s own future looks uncertain. He faces elections in 2007. The uniform issue hasn’t been sorted out and that suggests that he has not got a political process in place that will allow him to continue. With such an uncertain future ahead of you, can you deliver on the peace process?

President Musharraf: Again, an exaggerated view. Thinking these seems like a doomsday scenario coming in. Do you know the local government election results? The government party has won everywhere. Do you know that? In Punjab, they had about 95%, in Sindh they are massively in charge, in the Frontier Province, where there was a religious MMA government, the biggest winner party is the government party. Similarly, Baluchistan. So what is the problem with me? I am politically the strongest at the moment.

Thapar: On that note that you are the strongest politically, let’s end this segment

Exclusive: Karan with Musharraf – III

In Part III of an exclusive interview on Devil’s Advocate, Karan Thapar questions Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf about the ideas that he has been canvassing for as possible solutions to the Kashmir conflict.

Karan Thapar: General Musharraf, your foreign office spokesperson has indicated that in November, Pakistan Prime Minister Shakuat Aziz, suggested the concept of self-governance to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a possible solution for Kashmir.

It’s an idea that many people think has weightage, but they are not really sure what you mean by self-governance. So let me ask you what do you have in mind when you talk about self-governance?

President Musharraf: I believe one has to go beyond stated positions. Now, there is one aspect of what India has been saying – autonomy within the Indian constitution. This is totally not acceptable to the people of Kashmir also. Therefore, one needs to go beyond the stated positions. We have to go beyond autonomy and independence. We are working for something between autonomy and independence. And I think self-governance fits in well.

Thapar: Let us explore what India claims: That the people of Jammu and Kashmir state, who have their own elected government, already enjoy a measure of self-governance. How much more do you have in mind when you talk about self-governance?

President Musharraf: I don’t agree with that at all.

Thapar: You mean they have no self-governance whatsoever in your eyes?

President Musharraf: Not at all. Because most of the people don’t accept the Indian government in Kashmir.

Thapar: Of course the Indian response to this could be that, in fact, the people of what you call the Azaad Kashmir have no self-governance at all, even less than perhaps in India.

President Musharraf: Well, we would like to give self-governance to them also.

Thapar: So let’s come back to my question, when you talk about self-governance, how much more do you have in mind?

President Musharraf: When you say self-governance, okay in this part, would we agree to self-governance from both parts? Let us do it.

Thapar: Before we come to an agreement on both parts, let me try and explore with you, what you mean by that.

President Musharraf: Because you say self-governance, they would say that. Okay, if they are saying that, I’m open to it. Let us work out self-governance and impose the same rules on Indian side of Kashmir and Pakistani side of Kashmir. Is that all right?

Thapar: Well, it is not for me to answer, it is for the Indian government to answer.

President Musharraf: Okay.

Thapar: But I’m sure they are listening to this interview. Let’s first try and establish what do you mean by self-governance. As I said, Indians believe there is self-governance. How much more do you want? What more are you looking for?

President Musharraf: If India believes there is self-governance, we keep sticking to this position, we will never move forward because we do not agree. Therefore, if you want to move forward, we have to leave stated positions.

Thapar: Let me ask the question the other way around. May people in Kashmir look forward to what they call independence? How much less than independence is self-governance?

President Musharraf: Exactly that is what I am saying. Please listen to me. Self-governance falls in between autonomy and independence. That is what I want to say. Now, the exact details and intricacies of it need to be worked out. I am there to propose a strategy and idea. Now the tactics and the modalities of what is self-governance need to be worked out.

Thapar: Who works it out?

President Musharraf: Together, India, Pakistan and Kashmiris.

Thapar: Will you bring in constitutional experts, will you do it yourself or is it the politicians who will do the working out?

President Musharraf: Let us get legal experts.

Thapar: International legal experts or Indian or Pakistani legal experts?

President Musharraf: I don’t mind international. All these are problems with India. We won’t mind international experts. Get international experts.

Thapar: But will you be happy for India and Pakistan bilaterally to appoint their own experts?

President Musharraf: And the Kashmiris too.

Thapar: And Kashmiris. But you are happy for the matter to be handled bilaterally with Kashmiris involved rather than international people coming in?

President Musharraf: As I said, we are open to anything. That is our flexibility. We are open to anything, but please, for heaven’s sake, move forward.

Thapar: So, at the moment I am trying to understand what you are saying. You have gem of an idea, which is something in between autonomy and independence. But you have not fleshed it out and you believe the fleshing out has to happen together jointly.

President Musharraf: Yes, only one aspect that I have in mind within self-governance is that of security. Because the problem is of militancy on both sides. Indians accuse us for the terrorism going on or the freedom struggle going on, the other side or Pakistan accuses the Indian Army of committing atrocities. All these have to stop. Therefore, there is a demilitarisation required. And then, if we have to demilitarise, let us hand over security to the people. That is the main aspect.

Thapar: Is the concept of self-governance interlinked with demilitarisation? Or are they two separate concepts that you are playing with?

President Musharraf: I think it is one part of whatever I have suggested.

Thapar: It is a joint idea?

President Musharraf: Yes.

Thapar: But let me point out a problem.

President Musharraf: Demilitarisation is important because what kind of self governance can there be if there is a 600,000 or 700,000 army personnel all over the place and in the cities controlling everything.

Thapar: But what sort of government and you are a head of government, you are a head of army and you will understand this, what sort of government can withdraw and demilitarise while the threat of terrorism continues?

President Musharraf: No, it should not. Yes, indeed I am for curbing any kind of militancy.

Thapar: Doesn’t that have to happen first?

President Musharraf: No it can’t happen entirely. It should happen and peace should return in the Valley.

Thapar: And the demilitarisation?

President Musharraf: No sir, no. I don’t agree there. If anyone thinks that not a bullet will be fired, there are people who are involved. There is an indigenous proof, there are people involved, they are around, and they are not under the control of anyone. So if we think that if one bullet is fired, the peace process is dead, I am afraid this is not the way forward and this is what is happening on the Indian side.

Thapar: Can I point out you what perhaps in Indian eyes is normally the argument you are putting forward? You are saying that demilitarisation and the peace process has to happen together. Demilitaristion and terrorism can happen together, the problem is which government will demilitarise as long as the threat of cross border terrorism remains. Any responsible government in Delhi will say end the terror first, then we will move to talk about demilitarisation and governance. But as long as the terror continues how can a responsible government demilitarise?

President Musharraf: Okay. Why it shouldn’t? Has the Indian government ever said ‘yes we are for demilitarising and self-government?’ They haven’t even spoken. So lets get the strategy right. Okay, if there idea is that all terrorism has to stop and then we will speak about demilitarisation and self-governance. But they don’t move forward at all. They don’t even comment what they want.

Thapar: Let me play Devils Advocate with you. If the Indian want to say to you, as you sort of suggested just now, “end all terror then we will talk about demilitarisation and self-governance”, in that circumstance would you move to end all terror immediately?

President Musharraf: Karan, we must understand and the public of India should understand. If you think I have the key, which I will just switch off like that and all terror is gone.

Thapar: It sounded for a moment as if you did.

President Musharraf: Not at all. I didn’t sound that at all. There are a lot of groups operating. There is an indigenous factor operating there and there should be no doubt in any Indian minds there are indigenous factors there.

Thapar: So then do you say the Indian government’s problem is how to demilitarise while the terror continues?

President Musharraf: They will not listen to anyone. So therefore we have to jointly move forward. When we opened the bus service, the bus station on the Indian side was attacked. Do you think we did it? Do you think we facilitated that? On one side we are opening bus service and going for a peace process and somebody attacks that. You think Pakistan sponsored it?

Thapar: Many people in India sadly say that Pakistan sponsors Jehadi militant groups today.

President Musharraf: That is absolute nonsense and this is why we don’t move forward on the peace process. The problem is that they keep blaming Pakistan on things which are not correct and therefore we don’t move forward. Now if the bus station was attacked and they say Pakistan sponsored people, whoever it is they are not sponsored by Pakistan. They may have been sponsored 15 years back. They are not being sponsored. Now stop this allegation so that we can move forward.

Thapar: Let us come back to the peace process. You have said a moment ago that you will be very happy to introduce the concept of self-governance in what you called Azad Kashmir, just as you want to introduce self-governance on the Indian side of the border as well. And you would like both countries to work out together what they mean by self-governance and that is a set of details that still need to be worked upon. Will self-governance also apply to the Northern territories?

President Musharraf: Why we are getting involved in this nuisance?

Thapar: Is it a nuisance? You control almost 70 per cent of the Northern Territories.

President Musharraf: Now my idea is, we have to identity the region. I have said this a long time ago. In its complexity, in its entirety, we have to identify a region and then we have to demilitarise and then we have to go for self-governance and then we go for joint management. There are the four things that I said long time ago.

Thapar: Joint management?

President Musharraf: Yes.

Thapar: This sounds new. Joint management means that the sovereignty of the two countries over what they hold today is not appreciated, but you still manage to exert joint management. A Kashmiri entity with open borders and perhaps collaborated joint institutions. Is that not right?

President Musharraf: First of all it is sovereignty that we are talking about. The dispute is about sovereignty. This is a disputed territory. There is no sovereignty.

Thapar: Then what does joint management mean?

President Musharraf: Joint management would be a solution which we need to go into. Now I know that I am treading in very sensitive areas. And I know that the Indian government would comment on it that I give ideas through the media. Unfortunately, I also give these ideas always to the leadership also.

President Musharraf: I believe in confidentiality. I believe that things should be covered till we move forward. But unfortunately a year has passed and we still keep things under the wrap. We don’t come out openly. I don’t go along with this kind of strategy or theory. A time has to come when leadership on both sides have to come up in the open and discuss ideas.

Thapar: Absolutely. Let us separate for a moment how the ideas are raised and why you talked in the press and why you don’t. Let us leave that for a little later.

President Musharraf: I have said these things to the leadership also by the way.

Thapar: Let us for now concentrate on the idea itself. If self-governance is the solution that you are suggesting for both to consider – for Jammu & Kashmir on the Indian side and what you call Azad Kashmir on yours – why are the Northern Territories, which perhaps represent 70 per cent of of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, which you control?

President Musharraf: I have not said anything about any territory. I said we have to identify the region.

Thapar: So the Northern Territories could be included?

President Musharraf: At the moment, technically, the whole of Kashmir means the northern areas, Azad Kashmir, Jammu, Srinagar region and Ladakh region.

Thapar: So just to be crystal clear, because people are listening to you and they want clarity. The Northern Territories could be part of the package that you are talking about?

President Musharraf: When we discuss regions, when we discuss territories, yes indeed we start with the whole block. This is Kashmir and we start discussing.

Thapar: Now this concept of self-governance that you are suggesting would apply to the whole princely state of Kashmir as it existed prior to 1947. What you are suggesting is that the two governments sit down, work out what they mean by self-governance and apply equally and mutually on both side of LoC on the territories that they control? Can I go a step further? What are you envisaging?

President Musharraf: But that is not the end of everything.

Thapar: Absolutely. What are you then envisaging?

President Musharraf: Joint management.

Thapar: Joint management. What does that mean?

President Musharraf: Joint management means we need to work it out. We need to have a system where the Kashmiris, the Pakistanis, the Indians are involved in monitoring the self-governance that we evolve. There have to subjects which are devolved, there have to be some subjects retained for the joint management.

Thapar: So within the joint management of India and Pakistan over the old pre-1947 primary stage and Jammu and Kashmir within that you have self governance equally applied across both sides where the Kashmir have a say in their own life. Is that right?

President Musharraf: Yes, absolutely.

Thapar: Joint management then suggests that the sovereignty of India over what it has and sovereignty of Pakistan over what it has remains, but a creative, imaginative way is found for Kashmir within that sovereignty to share and a be part of it.

President Musharraf: That sovereignty is reduced. Okay. That sovereignty gets reduced because when we give self-governance that sovereignty that you are talking off, in a sense you are saying certainly gets reduced. Yes, I agree with it.

Thapar: But it is not undermined, that is the critical point.

President Musharraf: It’s not undermined.

Thapar: If it still remains, Indian-Kashmir, Pakistani-Kashmir but within that joint entity as well.

President Musharraf: Okay, one can have a time frame. One could have a time frame for these separate entities. After five or 10 years if they decide to merge and to have self governance as one block that could also be possible.

Thapar: So, then it could be a two-stage process. In stage one they remain separate entities, in stage two they merge, but they merge under what I am now calling the ‘tutelage’, the joint management of India Pakistan. That joint management remains.

President Musharraf: Yes, there has to be a division. We are not talking about giving independence to Kashmir. That is not acceptable to either India or Pakistan. We don’t accept autonomy as the final solution within the Indian constitution.

Thapar: Something in between.

President Musharraf: Something in between or self-governance.

Thapar: With both countries guaranteeing it?

President Musharraf: With both countries guaranteeing it and overseeing it.

Thapar: And therefore both countries having a stake in guaranteeing the situation in the other side of Kashmir.

President Musharraf: Absolutely.

Thapar: That’s critical?

President Musharraf: Yes.

Thapar: So you are talking then about concepts of interdependence, concepts of diplomatic interrelationships, that have never really been experimented before. This is completely fresh ground.

President Musharraf: Absolutely, you to break fresh ground. Because the LoC is the issue. On the Indian side it is said that boundaries cannot be redone. We will not accept the LoC as final.

Thapar: So this is General Musharraf being creative? This is General Musharraf thinking out of the box as he said in April he would.

President Musharraf: Absolutely, these are my ideas but I am open to any suggestions. The unfortunate reality is no suggestion comes from the other side. Or no comments come on this other than negative comments.

Thapar: General Musharraf, lets take a break. You have sketched out things in more detail than ever before. What you mean by self-governance and you have gone on record for the first time to talk of the concept of joint management under what I call the tutelage of India and Pakistan.

Let’s take a break and comeback and ask how you react to the Indian response, the way you have raised these proposals and what the next step thereafter should be.

Exclusive: Karan with Musharraf – IV

In the concluding part of an exclusive interview on Devil’s Advocate, General Pervez Musharraf says both India and Pakistan have been talking on a host of options both through official channels and back channels.

Thapar: General Musharraf its seems to me and it would certainly seem to many people who have heard you in Part I that your thinking out of box, you are being creative, you are being imaginative.

But instead of winning the applause of the Indian government, you have made them weary and they say the problem arises out of the way you come up with these ideas and the way you hand them out to the press first. Are you mishandling your own ideas?

President Musharraf: No, I am not. I have been passing these ideas on to the Indian government, to the Indian leadership, directly, indirectly, through back channels and through all kind of channels.

Thapar: Can I interrupt? Have you passed these ideas to the Indian government in the same detail as you have given to me today in this interview?

President Musharraf: Absolutely.

Thapar: You mean that?

President Musharraf: Absolutely.

Thapar: Can I say to you what the Indian government says? They say, first of all, these ideas were suggested by prime minister Shaukat Aziz to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Dhaka but not discussed, and secondly they have never been discussed on the back channel?

President Musharraf: This is absolutely wrong. Let this not be said again by anyone. Whoever has been involved in this knows that I am speaking the truth that we have given these ideas. My disappointment is that I would like the confidentiality to remain but my disappointment is that months and years are passing and we are not moving ahead.

Trying to keep it confidential. When is the time when we come out in the open? We have to create public opinion in the Kashmiris, in Indians and in Pakistan. The public opinion can be affected only when we come out in the open.

Thapar: Just to clarify because I think that this is an important issue. You have formally presented these ideas that you have just given to me in to the Indian government?

President Musharraf: Yes I have done it myself.

Thapar: You have done it yourself?

President Musharraf: And the back channels have done it also.

Thapar: Can I ask you, when did you yourself do it?

President Musharraf: Let us not get involved in that. I have done it and the back channel has also done it.

Thapar: That means either in New York in September or before that in April, the two last occasions that you met Dr. Manmohan Singh you formally raised these very ideas.

President Musharraf: Yes. These ideas are not new with me. These ideas are with me since a long time.

Thapar: And the back channel is also discussing them?

President Musharraf: Yes absolutely.

Thapar: So comments made by Indian officials that the back channel is not discussing these ideas, your saying those comments are wrong.

President Musharraf: Absolutely 400-percent wrong.

Thapar: So when the Indian authorities turn around and say, as they did after you spoke to Pakistani editors in Lahore on 29th of December, that General Musharraf only claims these ideas have been discussed on the back channel, because he needs to show to public opinion in Pakistan that progress is being made on Kashmir. That is an unfair comment and wrong comment.

President Musharraf: Absolutely wrong and totally baseless. We have proposed these ideas and as I said my disappointment is, and my suspicion, may I add here, that when you carry on thinking that this should not be opened up and they should be kept secret, nothing moves forward.

My view has always been that let us come out in the open so that public debates can be initiated on these subjects, so that we take people along. I want to infuse another idea. Let me give another bombshell.

Let me propose it here that let us take three important towns of the Valley, Srinagar, Kupwara and Baramulla. Let all military move out of these cities to the outskirts and we ensure that there is no militancy inside. Pakistan will be with the Indian government, with the Kashmiris to ensure that there is total peace and tranquility within these three cities. Look at the comfort that will come to the people. It does not need any constitutional amendment. It does not need anything. It just needs an administrative order.

Thapar: So that we are absolutely clear. How will Pakistan ensure that there is no militancy, no terrorism, to use the Indian preferred phrase, in these cities?

President Musharraf: Now, whatever influence anyone can wield on anyone, whatever influence can wield, I will do it to the utmost. But if somebody tells me you give me certificate and a guarantee that not one bullet will be fired, I would not be able to do that. But however if anyone fires a bullet, I will be there cooperating in brining whoever it is, which ever group, which ever individual, to task.

Thapar: When you say you will be there do you mean that you will be there personally?

President Musharraf: If anyone invites me I can be there personally also.

Thapar: Why have you chosen three cities on the Indian side of the LoC? Why not choose at least one city from what you call Azaad Kashmir, and equally remove the Pakistani army presence from there and give the Indians a role just as you want a role in assuring peace?

President Musharraf: Ok.

Thapar: Ok.

President Musharraf: For heavens sake.

Thapar: But did you say ok?

President Musharraf: I don’t mind doing that if that is the condition. But there is no militancy going on here. So what is the problem here? What are we talking?

Thapar: Simply for political reasons to ensure that there is equality of treatment because you know that is an important political concern. You are becoming a politician.

President Musharraf: Ok. Ok.

Thapar: So you are willing to do that?

President Musharraf: We don’t mind doing that. I could examine that absolutely. Let us discuss the issue and if we want to move forward and we increase the scope of this from these three cities, we move forward and these are the steps towards demilitarisation.

Thapar: So you are now floating a new idea for the first time that takes three cities?

President Musharraf: I said no. I have said that I have floated the ideas directly also.

Thapar: This same idea?

President Musharraf: Many times. Exactly these three cities.

Thapar: Has been formally suggested by you to the Indian government.

President Musharraf: Yes.

Thapar: But this is the first time you are making it public.

President Musharraf: Yes, because nothing is moving forward. No reply. Not even a reply that Ok, we are examining. We will come back to you later, No reply.

Thapar: So you are suggesting three cities as a test case?

President Musharraf: Yes.

Thapar: As a test case two to see how the two governments can cooperate to ensure self governance to the Kashmiris in three cities and also a complete and total end of militancy. Is that right?

President Musharraf: Yes, absolutely.

Thapar: And the amendment to what you floated earlier to the Indian government is that now as you told me is that you are prepared to consider atleast one city on the Pakistani side of the LoC to make it more politically acceptable?

President Musharraf: Ok.

Thapar: That is new.

President Musharraf: We had not discussed this because there is no militancy going on Pakistan.

Thapar: But your willingness to consider is new.

President Musharraf: Ok.

Thapar: You are not backing off from there.

President Musharraf: OK, we will consider that and consider it very seriously. If that is the way of moving the process forward I don’t mind.

Thapar: In other words you are prepared to do anything as a way of moving the process forward.

President Musharraf: Yes

Thapar: Even accept ideas from interviews in middle of interviews.

President Musharraf: Yes I don’t mind. The ideas can come from anyone, from you also.

Thapar: Let me put to you one of the concerns the Indian authorities will have. They’ll say “if General Musharraf is serious, why doesn’t he propose this and keep the discussion behind closed doors? But by going public he suggests to us in India he is actually appealing to a western gallery or that he is trying to appease domestic sentiments. He is not serious about it.”

President Musharraf: These are exact rationales for not moving forward. These are by those forces, those elements who don’t want to move the peace process.

Thapar: In other words they are excuses?

President Musharraf: Now the problem is exactly this that I have been proposing this behind the scenes. I have said it. I have given this to the Indian leaders; I have done this through the back channels, all of it, in detail, some of it even written. But there is no response, there is no reply. There is no counter proposal. That disappointments me.

And I think we have reached a stage where we have to come out in the open and therefore I am doing this. Let it be in the open, let the people of India and let the people of Pakistan debate it. Because I think the leadership doesn’t want to debate it in the open.

Thapar: On Thursday in Islamabad, you met with the All Party Hurriyat Conference leadership. Mir Waiz Farooq was here, Bilal Lone was here. Abdul Gani Bhat was here. Did you discuss these ideas with then?

President Musharraf: These ideas have been discussed by me with everyone.

Thapar: Including joint management, which you motioned earlier in this interview?

President Musharraf: Every thing has been discussed with everyone.

Thapar: Including the three cities you want to demilitarise?

President Musharraf: Everything has been discussed with everyone. And let me tell you that there are positive responses from everyone than the Indian government.

Thapar: Let me put it like this. One of the factors that is impeding further progress and a better response is the lack of trust. The Indian government says that trust would build up hugely if General Musharraf could encourage economic relationship, economic interdependence, because that then would lead us to believe that we could share a political future together. At the moment the trust is missing. Why not allow economic relationships to build upside by side so that your political ideas get that further boost.

President Musharraf: It is an irony that I am trusted, I think, by the whole world, and here is one country and one leadership who don’t trust me when I am saying things.

Thapar: Because of a history, which you know about.

President Musharraf: Yes it is because of the history. But history changes. I have said I trust Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, because I see sincerity in him. But I know that there are organisations within your government, agencies who work against this. I know that.

Now, if a leadership cannot be in charge and give their ideas and not allow the ideas to be dominated by organisations and agencies, then I am afraid we will never move forward. The agencies and organisations must be dominated by the leader and he must dictate the way forward.

Thapar: That’s the message you are giving to Dr Manmohan Singh, “be your own man, don’t be dictated by the agencies”?

President Musharraf: I am giving this message to all leaders including myself. Leaders have to dominate organisations. Ideas have to flow from them and the agencies and organisations, everyone goes along with those ideas. Otherwise he is no leader.

If the ideas come from others and the ideas that the leader or the thoughts that the leader has are dominated by the old hackneyed ideas of organisation and agencies who do not see anything in a flexible manner.

Thapar: You said many important things. You have called them a bombshell yourself. When this interview goes on air you are not going to back off and deny you said them.

President Musharraf: I never deny anything. You will show it, I will be speaking on the TV, so how can I deny?

Thapar: General Musharraf a pleasure speaking to you on Devils Advocate.

President Musharraf: Thank you. The name is very correct.


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