Posted by: Administrator | 2 March, 2007

Musharraf with TalkAsia CNN

April 23rd, 2005

VP: Veronica Pedrosa
PM: Pervez Musharraf


VP: Welcome to a very special TalkAsia from the Manila Hotel in the capital of the Philippines. Our guest this week is Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, who is here for a state visit meeting with officials. President Musharraf is seen as a lynch pin in the war on terrorism and crucial to regional stability. Just days ago Mr. Musharraf held important meetings in Delhi after watching a one-day international match between India and Pakistan, which incidentally Pakistan won. Thank you very much indeed for joining us Mr. President (PM: Thank you, my pleasure) When you met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, you declared that the process of peace with India was now irreversible, why?

PM: Because I said because the people have overtaken the governments and the leaders, the people have got involved and they show a desire and a wish that peace and harmony may prevail in the subcontinent. And therefore I see it is irreversible, all leaders will have to push it forward because the people’s force is behind it.

VP: But how can you bridge a divide such as that over the future status of Kashmir? What future do you see for the Kashmiri people?

PM: Well we have to work out what the solution is, but clearly the parameters that a solution has to be acceptable to Pakistan, India and most of all the people of Kashmir. We have to deal with it sincerely, so that we are not bluffing each other. We have to do it with flexibility, because I keep saying that the diplomacy just to be…to adopt a maximalist course on all issues, but when we adopt a maximalist course, all of us, agreement can only be reached if we step back. Obviously every one of us has to step back. So therefore the degree of flexibility and lastly, boldness and courage required because extremists will create obstacles on all sides. So therefore these three qualities have to be shown by the leadership and we’ve agreed that we need to do that.

VP: Boldness, keeping an eye on a larger vision of peace, obviously very important, but what about specific ideas? Recently you broached a kind of olive branch, the idea of demilitarizing certain areas of Kashmir. Did you raise it again and how was it viewed, because it was viewed with some skepticism when you first suggested it.

PM: No, there’s no doubt that the area to be negotiated…I have actually, I’ve been saying that there are geographically you have the Kashmir on our side and on the India side can be divided into seven regions I’ve identified — seven different regions. And I’ve said that we need to identify, agree on a region or the entire all the whole region and demilitarize that identified region and then change its status, this is what I have been saying. Now quite clearly, what it implies is that whatever the region that we identify, which is mutually acceptable to all, has to be demilitarized because that will give comfort to the people. The people are suffering at the hands of large amounts of forces that are deployed there. And on the other side, while the Indians claim that there is terrorism going on, while we say there is a freedoms struggle going on. So all this can be resolved if there are no forces and there is no terrorism, or freedom struggle and the people of Kashmir themselves look after their own security.

VP: Do you see a day when you yourself will be placing an order to your soldiers in the Pakistan administered area of Kashmir to go back to the barracks, when?

PM: In Pakistan? Well, if it is mutually agreed, they can return to barracks as you said. But since we are occupying the line of control on both sides, the Indian troops and our troops. The Indian troops on the line of control are about maybe five times more than Pakistani troops. So this can be mutually agreed, that’s what I’m saying, we must demilitarize the area to give comfort to the people.

VP: How was your idea received in India?

PM: I think it is received well.

VP: And the next step?

PM: Well I can’t really go into the steps of the…because it will be too premature, and if we start discussing options, I will allow the media I will allow the people to discuss options so that we can learn from them. If we show our cards now, maybe it will be derailed; the process will be derailed before it is initiated.

VP: Let’s move on to the war on terrorism. What are your priorities now in this war? I know that you are asked the question on where Osama bin Laden is and why he hasn’t been caught, very often — I’d like to ask you once again.

PM: Well, I can’t say where he is. Maybe he still is in the mountains on the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Why he hasn’t been caught? Because the area is very inaccessible, it is extremely mountainous, high mountains –between 9,000 and say 15,000 feet and it is very difficult…and there is no communication infrastructure, we are developing the communication infrastructure now. So therefore, it is very difficult to really locate a person who may be in hiding in someplace on the boarder on either side — or for that matter since so much time has gone, he may have even left that area. One can’t even guarantee with 100% surety that he is in the area.

VP: How valuable then in hindsight, do you think the offensive in Waziristan last year was? This was an unprecedented move by the Pakistani military into tribal ruled areas, wasn’t it?

PM: Yes, I think it was extremely effective in that we moved into one of the agencies out of the seven tribal agencies — that is south Waziristan agencies. And we operated there because we knew that the Al Qaeda is holding valleys there, having them as their sanctuaries, as their bases and we moved against those bases. Now they are dispersed in the hills and mountains in small penny packets, but they lack the homogeneity as a force. Their homogeneity that was provided by these bases is no more there. Therefore, in military terms, when you break the horizontal and vertical homogeneity of a force, the communication homogeneity, the linkages, that force ceases to exist as a unified force able to act in unison under directions from one source. That is what we have done.

VP: I’d like to move on to another topic, Pakistan has come under criticism for the way that it has handled the issue of international…I guess international interrogation I guess or just questioning of AQ Khan, to find out the extent of his nuclear materials…racket for want of a better word. You’ve said, first of all, that Pakistan will provide to the IAEA centrifuges that might clear up some questions it has about providing technology to Iran’s program. When will you do that? Also why don’t you allow international inspectors to speak directly to Mr. Kahn?

PM: Basically, I think when you say that internationally we have come under criticism; we haven’t come under criticism by the governments internationally. Now the issue related to proliferation is very clear to all governments, a state is involved, this is an individual who has involved and that is Dr. AQ Khan. He proliferated, but the state is not involved, this is very very clear to everyone. Now, having said that now there is an issue with Iran, Iran’s nuclear development capabilities. On this issue it is quite clear that there is a degree of proliferation which took place by AQ Kahn into Iran. Now there is no doubt, there is no secret about this, we have accepted it and we have even said yes, yes indeed there is proliferation to Libya there has been proliferation to Iran, yes. Now what has come about is that there is contamination located in Iran and they want to trace the source of this contamination. So the issue is not with Pakistan, the case is not of investigating on Pakistan…there is no investigation going on Pakistan. The investigation is going on with Iran on whether they are enriching uranium. What Pakistan’s stand is, when you ask why are we not allowing the interrogation of Dr. AQ Khan? It’s doubting our capability and it is doubting our intentions. We have given out all the intelligence information that we have extracted from Dr. AQ Kahn and we have also said whenever an additional piece of information comes, do tell us, we will cooperate all the way. We will ask him again and we will again feed the information. So either this is a lack of trust in our capability and we think that the IAEA can do a better job of interrogating him than us, and secondly a lack of trust in our intentions, that maybe we are hiding something — both ways it is not acceptable to me. And therefore, please tell us, we will tell you and we want to cooperate, as we won’t proliferate, what more do you want? Why should we think that we are incapable of doing this and why are we not being trusted?

VP: We are speaking with Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf. You’re watching TalkAsia, we’ll pause for a break, but be back in two minutes.


VP: Welcome back to TalkAsia from the Manila Hotel in the Philippines, we’re very happy to have with us Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf. Mr. President, you have survived at least two assassination attempts, what is it like for you to be living under this threat?

PM: Well it has certainly restricted my freedom of action to an extent, but not at all completely, not at all in a meaningful manner. I still go around; I still travel all around the country and also do whatever I feel like. I go to hotels; I roam around in the evening for a casual cup of coffee in a hotel. So I haven’t allowed this to restrict me because I believe that nothing can be done about it. So while we do take security measures, I don’t think one should become a hermit, I don’t believe in it, I don’t believe in that kind of security that you don’t do anything that you ought to be doing. The other issue is that we have succeeded in breaking the back of the terrorist as I have just told you. Therefore, we have a certain degree of confidence that maybe these terrorists do not have that kind of capability to put in those attacks as they used to before. And the proof of it, the manifestation is that since the last ten months or more, there has not been a terrorist attack in Pakistan.

VP: But does your fear perhaps, of personal safety perhaps, affect the way that you make decisions?

PM: No, not at all, not at all, not the least. Not the least. I don’t take…how does it affect decision? No not at all.

VP: When you came to power, you were a general, you are still a general despite your promise of taking off your uniform and donning your civvies for good, that was supposed to happen at the end of last year. When do you think that this is going to be possible for you to leave the military and if you wish, do you expect to run for president in the elections?

PM: Well as far as the uniform is concerned, yes indeed, I had thought that I will be able to leave this post of army chief last year, at the end of last year, but when I see the issues confronting Pakistan — the disputes, the problems confronting us, I realize that there is a utter dire necessity of keeping three institutions. The political politicians, bureaucrats and the military in unison, well coordinated, under unity and that — whether one likes it or not — was being provided by me. To deal with all the issues confronting Pakistan, the dangers confronting us and the demands on progress and prosperity required for pushing Pakistan forward. Therefore, against my wishes, I did not take the uniform off. Now when do I intend doing that? The constitution allows me to hold two offices till 2007, and I’ve said I don’t violate constitution. That is where it stands whether I run for another presidency or not that is to be seen later. We will stick to constitutional arrangements.

VP: The question of development in Pakistan is one that you have spoken about at length here in the Philippines. The question of education reform has come up with regards to Pakistan also. What is your approach to those two issues, how important are they to you?

PM: Education reforms? You have just spoken of education (VP: education, yes) Yes it is most important. I think quality of human resource, human resource development, ultimately in the long run is the major factor for progress of a nation, there is no doubt in my mind. So therefore we are approaching education from that point of view and we have taken a very holy strict view of education and we have strategized how to move forward on education. We have taken that our literacy level is very low; we need to enhance the literacy level through universalizing education and literacy which we are doing. We have seen that our primary and secondary education quality is very poor. We have modified the examination system, we have introduced new teacher’s training and we are changing the course curriculum and courses syllabus. And then in this whole effort we see another area, that is the Madrasas, we have introduced the Madrasas strategy, where we are encouraging the Madrasas to teach all other subjects than religion and take examinations of a normal board — board examinations, so that the children studying there are mainstreamed into life, in the country.

VP: We’re going to take a break just for a couple of moments here on this very special edition of TalkAsia in conversation with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. Stay with CNN.


VP: Welcome back to TalkAsia from Manila in the Philippines, we’re talking to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. Mr. President, Pakistan is sandwiched between two global giants in the economic interpretation of the word and in the population interpretation of the word — China and of course India. It is also right next to Afghanistan, which is still I would say a region of instability. What vision do you have for Pakistan in the next five years, what role do you see it carving out for itself, both geopolitically and economically?

PM: Well, you’re right, although we are a large country with a population of 150 million, but in comparison with China and India we are small. However, if you see the location of Pakistan and you see this location in relation to the very rapid development of the western region of China and the developing economic relationships, commercial and trade interests between China and India, the shortest route between these two countries is through Pakistan. If you relate also central Asian republics, they are all land locked, they are all looking to have access to the world, their route is through Pakistan. And India is looking into dealing with Afghanistan and with central Asian republics having access, their route is through Pakistan. If you see the gulf, Iran and … India is interested in getting gas from Iran, the route is through Pakistan — this is a geo strategic significance, so our geo strategic significance cannot be reduce, this is the dictate of geography. And we need to realize that, we have understood that and therefore we have constructed a new port at Guarda, which is at the mouth of the gulf almost, we are constructing a road and rail communication infrastructure. We already have, we are improving it northwards to have linkages through Afghanistan with central Asian republics, to improve our linkage with China through the Karakoram highway, and therefore we are the hub of all economic interaction in this region.

VP: I actually wanted to follow up by asking you about whether those kind of issues are the kind you would like to be seen as your legacy by the rest of the world. Or do you think that it’s more a question of the war on terrorism, that 9/11 has inextricably linked your name and Pakistan’s name with terrorism?

PM: Well I frankly consider myself fortunate, from one point of view, although the dangers and risk and the problems have been…had to be faced by me. But I consider myself fortunate to be at a time and place where one can do something to contribute not only for the nation but also to the region, also to the Islamic world, also to the world at large. And I am fortunate to have that, so the legacy that you are talking of that I would like to leave is first of all certainly for my nation. All my actions are dictated for the betterment of Pakistan – its progress, prosperity, prosperity of its people; that is the first legacy that I would like to leave. The second legacy is for the region because the South Asian/Central Asian regions are the two regions which are not cooperating for economic prosperity. They are not linked with East Asia which is cooperating and going forward on economic growth. I would like to leave a legacy of intra-regional and inter-regional cooperation within the region for mutual benefits. Then there is the issue of the Muslim Omar, the Muslim world. Pakistan is an important part of the Muslim world. I would like to leave a legacy where we contribute to the emancipation, the socio-economic development of the Muslim world, which is at the moment I think the worst off in all social indicators. And last of all, the world is suffering, the world at large is in turmoil, is in a state of destabilization. If at all one can contribute towards bring stability and harmony towards the world — and that is what I have done — to when I propounded this idea of enlightened moderation. So these are the legacies that I want to leave and I am very fortunate that I have the opportunity being located at a place and being at a time where I can…where I can contribute.

VP: It’s been a real pleasure speaking to you

PM: Thank you very much

VP: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf speaking to us here on TalkAsia, only on CNN. Tune in again next week.


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