QUESTION-ANSWER SESSION WITH HENRY KISSINGER
24 Jan, 2008
Question: Mr. Musharraf, the fact that you in both sitting together of course underlined that there is a mutual threat on peace and stability which is well recognized. I think everyone in this room understands many of the challenges you face particularly with the election coming on February the 18th. But can I do the bullet points. You are here promoting Pakistan at the moment around European four countries. You have been in Paris and Brussels. You are going to London tomorrow. Can you give what you think at the moment theoretically are achievable levels of peace and stability in your country giving the enormous pressure at every level in Pakistan on you?
President Musharraf: While looking at under the present circumstances and in the future there are three elements. Number one, ensure the sustenance of the economic growth and we are on an economic upsurge in Pakistan. Number two, we must carry on the fight against terrorism and extremism which is a scourge, which is disturbing our environment. It will have an impact even in the streets of Europe. And the third element, we must go for elections on the 18th of February. They must be free, fair and transparent and peaceful and we must ensure a stable government coming into Pakistan subsequently to be able then to address the issue of terrorism and extremism and sustainable economic growth, sustaining the economic growth with more strength. These are immediate challenges. But may I since you have given me four minutes by the way, expand the scope beyond because I think what is affecting Pakistan is affecting the world also. I thought we need to discuss our quest for peace and stability in the world. I personally feel that the core to this peace and stability in the world is to ensure economic growth and political stability in individual countries. Now this is affected by the international turbulence, the instability, and the conflicts around the world. It is affecting political stability and economic growth especially in the Muslim countries at varying levels. So therefore we need to find solutions to those elements. And I would like to recommend four elements where the solution lies. Number One, I would say we must resolve the political disputes, the existing ones, especially the core being Palestine because I think that will create effects, indirect effects on whatever is happening in Lebanon or Afghanistan or terrorism in Pakistan. We must solve these disputes. Then we must continue the fight against terrorism and extremism. And this must be done on a multi pronged strategy – fight them militarily. There is a political element to it and there is a socio economic element to it. I would not go into the details. We must do that. And then we must ensure the economic growth of countries, especially the developing countries and that is where the responsibility of individual governments comes in. And may I say the responsibility of the West comes in where there are these economic inequities leading to as I remarked once before ‘islands of prosperity could be drowned under oceans of poverty’. Let us not allow that to happen. Therefore the millennium development goals of the United Nations and the ODA commitment of the developed countries must be ensured so that these inequities between North and South reduce. And finally may I say that we have to build democratic institutions and institutions of good governance within countries. And lastly may I add, if I still have half a minute, is the inter-faith harmony. And I think in this I had proposed a strategy of enlightened moderation but other proposals of harmony between civilizations etc. are very well count. This is the way forward to bring harmony to the world. So there is a commitment, there has to be a resolve at individual country level and there also has to be a resolve internationally.
Question: One point of clarification, Mr. President – free and fair elections on February the 18th, you used the phrase essence of democracy to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament on Monday. What is the subtle difference between the essence of democracy and the free and fair election which suggest totally open without any sense of anything going wrong, or ballot rigging or anything like that?
President Musharraf: Well, there is no conflict at all. Obviously free and fair elections are an essence of democracy. But when I talk of essence of democracy I mean a much larger thing. What is democracy; it is empowerment of the people. So first of all every developing country must ensure empowerment of the people. People of Pakistan were not empowered. We empowered them through a third tier of government, the local government system where we empowered them financially, administratively and politically. We empowered the women of Pakistan. They had no seats. Today twenty two per cent of our National Assembly are women. They have reserved seats at the local government level. They have reserved seats at every tier of government. We have empowered the minorities of Pakistan. They have separate electorates. So the Muslims of Pakistan would not go to the minorities because they would elect their own people. We have given them joint electorate and also duplicated it with reserved seats at every tier of parliament. This is essence of democracy which we have introduced. And for the first time in the 3
history of Pakistan, the National Assemblies, the Provincial Assemblies, the Senate, the local governments have completed their tenure, did well, performed well, put Pakistan on an economic growth of seven per cent per annum for the last five years. Today even Marry Lynches says that our growth rate will be six point eight per cent. If you see the last page of the Economist you will see that they are showing Pakistan at seven per cent growth in spite of everything that may be happening there. So this is the essence of democracy that we will introduce and we need to sustain it and obviously on 18th February the election must be fair, free and transparent and I have added a new word ‘peaceful’. We will make sure that they are peaceful.
FAKHRUDDIN AHMED (Chief Advisor to the Bangladesh Prime Minister): ………that really for which his government came into power and soon there after we said holding a free, fair, credible election is the number one priority but for which certain preparations were necessary. First of all………….. that is really that we have done and we have also separated the judiciary………………and upsurge of public demand for such changes. That was the backdrop of our government and that is why ……………. in the course of history for our region. That for one should assess the scale of the challenges in that important context…………. year there has been some positive developments in Iraq. I can say for the first time and a long long time that may be Iraq…………………..
Anchorperson: You give the mike to President Musharraf.
PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF: I just want to reinforce what my brother from Bangladesh has said. We need to understand with a predominantly western audience sitting in front, how to judge a country. Judge a country through its economic performance, well being of its people and its political stability. Please don’t judge the country on idealistic, may be unrealistic western perceptions of democracy and human rights. That is where we start going wrong. Now in Bangladesh we know what they were facing and I think what the President has said is absolutely the right course. So he is trying to bring democracy. He is trying to address human rights issues. He has to ensure political stability and economic growth. That should be the gauge and not the other.
QUESTION; John Stephen: The International Institute for Strategic Studies has worked with all your governments to try to facilitate quiet diplomacy; my offer is that we will continue to do so to the degree as to my wish. Our question to President Musharraf is what 4
is the vision you have to work with the new Prime Minister to create a different political dispensation in the federally administered Tribal areas, FATA?. Question for Deputy Prime Minister Saleh. He spoke of democracy. When do you think the provincial elections will be held and because they might become a magnet for more insecurity what you say to the proposal sometimes made that provincial elections should take place on a rolling basis so that additional security can be served towards those electoral process in support of democracy.
ANCHORPERSON: President Musharraf?
PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF: We are going to have the elections on the 18th of February and whichever party comes, wins the elections and if it wins enough votes to be able to form the government or if they don’t and if there is a hung parliament, obviously there will be a coalition and a Prime Minister will come into being. Now in our constitution, the Prime Minister has certain powers and the President. So there is no clash of interest at all. It is the Prime Minister who will run Pakistan. But when you are talking of FATA, that is federally administered tribal agencies, there is a difference. The FATA comes directly under the Governor and the President. So therefore there is a degree of coordination required. Yes indeed, there is a degree of harmony required in our actions to bring harmony into the tribal agencies. Now it is only the southern tribal agencies which are more disturbed, the North and South Waziristan Agency. And all that I have already said we need to take a multi pronged look at that. And which we are doing already. We are looking at the military aspect. We have to attack Al Qaeda. We have to eliminate Al Qaeda. We have to deal with Taliban, the militant Taliban. Now these are our own people. So therefore there is a military element required and there is a political element required to wean away the population from these militant Taliban. And then there is a socio economic element involved which we are looking at. All this has to be done simultaneously. Obviously the government has to take up the socio economic style. But there is a third element that we have to deal within Pakistan and in many other Muslim countries, I may say. The issue of extremism from the society, although Pakistan is vastly moderate, but there are extremists who can be very aggressive. So therefore extremism being a state of mind, we have to address this issue of extremism through another strategy which we have adopted and we are going forward. So I would say that with a stable government and an understanding and political harmony, economic growth being sustained. That is the key otherwise we will start going down. That is the key to success. Having ensured this, we need to go forth on the multi pronged strategy that we have adopted to fight Al Qaeda, Taliban and extremism.
ANCHORPERSON: President Musharraf, just picking up from John Stephen’s question from what we heard from Afghanistan and Iraq. Do you believe there is a legitimate and viable political track inside the Fata at the moment to work in parallel with the military and security challenges you are working on? There is a political track as well as a security and military track. We just heard very clearly from President Karzai and Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq that there is more than just security operations by the military?
PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF: Yes, indeed that is what I always keep saying. The whole population is not fighting. They are not militants. When you are talking of Al Qaeda in Pakistan, they are foreigners. They have no right to be on our land without any valid document. So therefore they have to be removed. When you talk of Taliban, they are people from the population. The strategy ought to be two fold in Pakistan. Number one, wean away the population from joining all these who are for militancy. So that is where the political element is involved. The other part is, deny any cross border movement between Afghanistan and Pakistan by blocking the borders. No Pakistani should be allowed to go across to militancy and no militant Taliban should be allowed to come into Pakistan.
ANCHORPERSON: What is the political track here that could be pursued in those areas as well?
PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF: Political track is not, if you are talking of elections.
Anchorperson: No Sir, afterwards?
PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF: Yes, indeed. In 2000, we thought that with fifty years of existence Pakistan had not integrated this FATA region into the mainstream. So we initiated the process back in 2000 and we dealt with the tribal Maliks who are the leaders of their tribes that let us integrate FATA into the Frontier Province. That should have gone on. But the unfortunate events after 9/11, now the situation is different and we need to wait and stabilize before we go on that track because a very big change has occurred in the political realities of FATA. While previously it were tribal Maliks and we also called them Lungi holders, the influential tribal notables who used to wheal influence over their tribes, after the emergence of Taliban this political, military element or dominance to an extent started going into the hands of the Taliban who did not enjoy any authority or position of eminence in the tribal hierarchy before, now it is these clerics and militant Taliban who have come into being. So under these circumstances, if we go for any kind of a political transition at this moment even at the local government level, may be we will reach a place which will be more disturbing than what it is at the moment. So let us stabilize at the moment and then go for political transformation or integration into the mainstream.
Question: I very much welcome your pledge of free and fair elections on February 18th. I only tell you that there is enormous fear in Pakistan that fraud might take place. And if there is fraud, election fraud, the body that will ultimately resolve that would be the Pakistani Supreme Court. As you know, when you declared emergency rule, first of all you removed the independent Justices on the Court and replaced them with your handpicked ones of your choices. Those people may lack the credibility to determine whether the election is free and fair or not. Would you reinstate the original independent Judges so that any challenge of fraud could be heard by an independent Supreme Court?
ANCHORPERSON: Mr. President, this is about the issue of credibility of the system for an election?
PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF: Yes, indeed. First of all on election fraud, well there is a system of election in Pakistan which was there all along. It has certain bugs. It is through amendments to the laws made by my government that we have further ensured the fairness and transparency of the system. For example, we have introduced the system of care-taker government. If we have any intention of fraud, may be the same government should have carried on and the elections would have taken place under those governments, under the same Prime Minister, same Chief Ministers but we introduced this change. Another change that we introduced was the possible fraud which always the opposition cried in the past that between the Returning Officer and the Election Commission, there is gerrymandering of results. We have introduced the law that the Returning Officer will announce the result and post it. Then there was an issue of ghost polling stations. Today all the polling stations have been notified and they are on the internet for the whole world to know. Then there was an issue of electoral rolls and the credibility of the electoral rolls. Now the electoral rolls have been notified. They are on the internet. All this has been done. Then there was an issue that there was 7
gerrymandering in the delimitation of constituencies. We disallowed that. No delimitation of constituencies. So this is the intention that we go along with and may I also add what existed in the past, the fairness at the gross root level had been at the level of the Presiding Officer of the polling station. At this level where people come to vote and cast their ballots, there are political agents of each candidate sitting right there. This Presiding Officer shows the empty ballot box and seals it. Previously this was the wooden box. Now we have spent money to make it into a transparent box. That also has been done for the first time this time. Now after sealing the ballots are cast right in front of agent of every candidate. And then the count is done in front of every agent of every candidate. You tell me where the fraud can take place. So therefore I am very sure that the election will be fair and transparent. And if you have any ideas of a further action to be done, I will be too pleased to give your ideas to the Chief Election Commissioner.
QUESTION: So why not reinstate the independent Justices rather than having handpicked ones?
PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF: I come to that. So do I take it that you have no other suggestion than I have already said? Let me tell you in Urdu there is a quotation that even if you get the stars and moon from the sky, and if you go to the Opposition and you ask them they will say there is a fraud. So therefore, it depends on who you are asking?
QUESTIONER: This is about the Supreme Court, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF: Now let us come to the Supreme Court. And I would like to ask you if the Chief Justice of your country is involved in corruption, is nepotistic and also he is influencing judgments of the Lower Courts for his own personal gains, what would you do to such a Chief Justice. Now, in our Constitution there is a system. Every developing country, very humbly may I suggest, may be we are not as developed as developed countries but we also have our system which you should understand. We have a Constitution that we follow. This Constitution is the Constitution of Pakistan, and not Constitution of your country. In our Constitution, there is a system. Nobody is above the law. Any misperforming Judge or a Chief Justice, a reference can be moved against him in a Supreme Judicial Council which has five members – three senior most Supreme Court Judges and two senior most Provincial High Court Judges. This has not been done by me. It is in the Constitution from the very beginning. So, a reference was moved against the Chief Justice of Pakistan. What is so unconstitutional or unlawful about it, that 8
we did? So, nothing unlawful, nothing unconstitutional. Then if the same Chief Justice with his cronies tries to destabilize the system, the government system. In that the government gets paralyzed, in that the sovereignty of the Parliament is challenged, the Parliament who elects a President with fifty seven per cent votes, is denied notification of the result and it is said we, the Supreme Court, will decide the issue and the Supreme Court with a seven-member bench and he realizes that the seven member bench is going to pass a judgment in favour of me, who was the elected President, he makes it into a nine-member bench. He sees the nine-member bench is also going to pass a favorable judgment; he makes it into an eleven-member bench, makes a mockery of the system. How would you address the situation in your country, that is why I keep saying, please look at Pakistan from Pakistan’s eyes, and not from any foreign eyes. You should see our performance on how the government is going. Whether the welfare of the people is being addressed. Whether economic well being of the country is being addressed and we are moving forward? And not with the eyes of your misperceived ideas of human rights or Western views on human rights and democracy, which I keep saying. We also believe in them, but give us some time to adopt all that you have achieved in centuries.