Posted by: Administrator | 4 March, 2007

TIME – 10 Questions for Pervez Musharraf

25 Spetember 2005

Pervez Musharraf, who has ruled Pakistan since 1999, became a household name in the U.S. after 9/11, when Washington persuaded him to withdraw his country’s support for the Taliban in Afghanistan and join the U.S. in its battle against terrorism, a move that remains controversial in his country. Musharraf stopped by TIME’s New York City office recently for a chat.

WE HAVE A COVER, ENGRAVED AND READY TO GO AT A MOMENT’S NOTICE, THAT SAYS, “OSAMA BIN LADEN, CAPTURED.” DO YOU THINK WE’LL EVER RUN THAT COVER?

I hope [you] do. One would prefer that he’s captured somewhere outside Pakistan. By some other people.

SERIOUSLY, WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT WHERE YOU THINK HE IS?

We don’t know anything at the moment. The reality is that about a year ago, we had some identification of a rough area where he was, through technical means, but then we lost him. That is how intelligence works. You can get to a person immediately, or you can just lose him immediately. I think the safest place would be on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, because this line we are not including in each other’s areas, so therefore you can easily switch sides.

YOU ARE ONE OF THE U.S.’S CLOSEST ALLIES IN THE WAR ON TERRORISM, BUT MANY OF YOUR COUNTRYMEN ARE VEHEMENTLY ANTI-U.S. HOW TRICKY IS THAT BALANCING ACT?

This may sound a little odd–while I would, honestly speaking, say that the man on the street does not have a good opinion of the United States, at the same time, if you ask the man on the street whether he agrees with my policies, I know the vast majority agree with my policies. So you might take this to mean they understand that whatever I am doing is in our national interest and we are following the right course. Before 1989, we were a strategic ally of the U.S. and fought a war in Afghanistan for 10 years. Then we got left high and dry. The United States then started to have a strategic relationship with India, which was in the enemy camp. What would the man on the street think?

A.Q. KHAN, THE FATHER OF PAKISTAN’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM, IS UNDER HOUSE ARREST IN YOUR COUNTRY FOR GIVING NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY TO COUNTRIES LIKE NORTH KOREA. HOW MUCH DAMAGE DID HE DO?

I think the maximum damage was to Pakistan. He brought a terrible name to us, maligned us internationally. But he also gave us technology which was, from Pakistan’s point of view, essential to maintain our strategy of minimum deterrence against the threat that was posed to us. He did good for us, but he had no right whatsoever to bring that much of a bad name to Pakistan.

YOU’RE PAKISTAN’S PRESIDENT AS WELL AS THE HEAD OF ITS ARMED FORCES. WILL YOU GIVE UP THE ARMY POST IF YOU RUN IN 2007?

I haven’t decided. As far as my being head of the army is concerned, yes, according to the constitution, I’m allowed to wear the uniform until 2007. That’s the constitutional position. And I don’t violate the constitution.

HAS THE CONSTITUTION ALWAYS ALLOWED THE PRESIDENT TO BE THE HEAD OF THE ARMY?

No.

WHEN DID THE CONSTITUTION CHANGE?

Under my tenure. It came through a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly. It’s not easy to get a two-thirds majority. I can’t change anything today. I will never be able to get a two-thirds majority today, but at that time … I think that is what democracy is.

WHY IS PAKISTAN REACHING OUT TO ISRAEL FOR TALKS?

We saw Israel take action on vacating Gaza. The word Israel was taboo in Pakistan, but we believe that if we want to contribute to a resolution of this Palestinian dispute, we at least ought to be talking to the Israelis. I decided that the foreign ministers could meet in a friendly country, and we selected Turkey.

DO YOU FORESEE A DAY THAT YOU WILL RECOGNIZE ISRAEL?

That will come about if they create a Palestinian state, living side by side in peace and harmony.

WHAT DO YOU LOSE SLEEP OVER?

Nothing. If I was the kind who took to tension, I would be dead by now.

NOT EVEN AFTER TWO ASSASSINATION ATTEMPTS IN 2003?

I’ve fought wars. I’ve attacked positions in a hail of fire. My men have died in my arms. So maybe I’ve become thick skinned.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1109341-2,00.html#ixzz0oyDMPwEt

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