Posted by: Administrator | 29 January, 2009

CNN The Situation Room with WOLF BLITZER

Now the former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf tells me he will return to Pakistan soon for a possible political  comeback — my one-on-one interview coming up. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I’m Wolf Blitzer.

You’re in THE SITUATION ROOM – 20 May 2010. WATCH VIDEO

BLITZER: And joining us now, the former president of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf.

Mr. President, thanks very much for coming in.

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, FORMER PAKISTANI PRESIDENT: Thank you.

BLITZER: All right, what are your plans personally? Because I have been hearing a lot of rumors about what you’re planning on doing. Are you planning on going back to Pakistan to run for president?

MUSHARRAF: Well, I certainly am planning to go back to Pakistan and also join politics. The question of whether I’m running for president or prime minister will be seen later.

BLITZER: When — when does that mean, later?

MUSHARRAF: Well, I have to — I have to launch myself politically, formally, which I haven’t done. So, I am interacting with a lot of politicians and with the people of Pakistan, with the Pakistani Diaspora here in the United States and in U.K.  And I have taken a decision in principle to join politics and go back to Pakistan, but I will…

BLITZER: When — when will you go back? Is it the next few weeks, next few months?

MUSHARRAF: Well, it is related to the election in Pakistan. I am very sure of one thing, that, whether it’s end-term elections or midterm elections, I will be there before those elections.

BLITZER: The midterm elections would be the next set of elections. When are these?

MUSHARRAF: If at all, midterm. There’s no sign — if at all, it’s midterm election. It will be next year, maybe, 2011.

BLITZER: But you’re saying that, right now, you’re going to go back to Pakistan, get into politics, and run either for president or for prime minister?

MUSHARRAF: Well, it’s — basically, we run a parliamentary system there, so you have to your — your party has to win in the election. Then only do you decide to run. Basically, you are heading a party. You are running for the prime ministership, because, in Pakistan, the chief executive is the prime minister, not the president.

BLITZER: You have been away from Pakistan for about a year. Are you worried about going back, your safety?

MUSHARRAF: Well, there are security issues. Maybe my wife and my family is more worried than I am.

But there are security issues, which one needs to take into consideration. And that is why I’m not laying down any dates for my return. I’m looking at issues there, but I do intend launching and declaring my intention formally sooner than later.

BLITZER: All right. I asked the question about your security, because a few weeks before Benazir Bhutto decided to go back to Pakistan and run for office, she was sitting in that same chair, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM, and I — I spoke to her about it. And I asked her how concerned she was about her security. And she basically told me, it was in Allah’s, in God’s, hands.

And I’m hearing something similar to you. We know what happened to her once she started campaigning for political office in Pakistan.

MUSHARRAF: Well, I — I hope I’m more lucky — luckier than her.

BLITZER: Let’s talk about her for a moment, because you know this United Nations report that came out on April 15. It said this, specifically referring to you.

“The federal government” — meaning your federal government — “The federal government, under General Musharraf, although fully aware of and tracking the serious threats to Miss Bhutto, were not proactive in neutralizing them or ensuring that the security provided was commensurate to the threats.”

That’s a pretty serious charge that you knew she was under a threat, and you didn’t do enough to protect her.

MUSHARRAF: I really don’t fully agree with this statement. In fact, it was me who warned her about the threat to her. It was I who stopped her from going to that venue once before. To which a lot of political aspersions were cast on me, that her movements are being restricted, but she decided to go again.

And then all the security were provided within the Pakistani environment. She did go to the — to the venue. She was taken safely. She addressed the people for one hour safely. She got off. Got into the car safely. So I think this is rather unfair. This comment is rather unfair.

BLITZER: She had also sent me —

MUSHARRAF: But if you —

BLITZER: She had also sent an e-mail before she was assassinated, in which she said, if something happens to me, she was going to blame you and your people for not giving her the security that she was appealing for.

MUSHARRAF: Well, I think all the security was provided. I wouldn’t like to comment on this. All the security, where ever possible, and by the police, was provided to her.

BLITZER: So, if you had to do it over, would you have done anything differently in terms of providing her protection?

MUSHARRAF: I think the same would have been done, whatever protection was provided, as I said. The vehicles and the police force with her, and at the venue, the checking of the public who’s coming in thousands, at the venue. All that was done.

BLITZER: Let’s talk about Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American who’s accused of plotting this Times Square bombing. The U.S. government says he was working with the Pakistani Taliban. What do you know about this?

MUSHARRAF: Well, I don’t know about him at all. However, it’s very sad that this person who is living here, being a Pakistani, but an American citizen, had to bring such a bad name to Pakistan.

BLITZER: Is the Pakistani government right now doing enough to deal with the Pakistani Taliban?

MUSHARRAF: Yes, I think so.

BLITZER: In North Waziristan they’re doing nothing.

MUSHARRAF: Well, the force is being used. They have succeeded in Swat, then they went into Bajaur Agency, they succeeded. They have succeeded in South Waziristan agency. And now I believe they are acting in Orakzai Agency where this Taliban and al Qaeda have escaped.

BLITZER: What would you have done differently if you were president or prime minister of Pakistan?

MUSHARRAF: Well, I think they are following almost the same policy of dealing with the — with al Qaeda and Taliban. The only thing —

BLITZER: Is the United States — go ahead, finish your statement.

MUSHARRAF: — I would like to say is that they must add more force in the form of frontier court.

BLITZER: The Pakistani military.

MUSHARRAF: Yes, the second-line forces because —

BLITZER: Is it time for the U.S. to go in there?

MUSHARRAF: No.

BLITZER: On the ground? MUSHARRAF: No, not at all.

BLITZER: Because they’re sending in the drones, you know.

MUSHARRAF: Well, the drones — because of their indiscriminate use of the drone is having a negative impact in the public because of the collateral damage, and I wonder whether this Faisal Shahzad incident, is he — has he been affected by the indiscriminate bombing by the drones?

BLITZER: When you say indiscriminate bombing, these are targeted bombings by the U.S.

MUSHARRAF: No, no.

BLITZER: They are not indiscriminate.

MUSHARRAF: A lot of collateral damage. We must avoid collateral damage.

BLITZER: I want you to turn around because I’m going to show you a picture in the wall over there. Turn around. It’s going to come up in a second. And that’s you. You know what that is over there.

MUSHARRAF: Yes.

BLITZER: That is your Facebook page.

MUSHARRAF: Yes.

BLITZER: Pervez Musharraf is on Facebook. You’re also on Twitter. Do you know, Mr. President, as we speak right now, that the Pakistani government has shut down Facebook in Pakistan?

MUSHARRAF: And first of all, if you look at that, it will show 210,000 names.

BLITZER: You have a lot of people, a lot of friends on Facebook. But right now, Pakistan, nobody is seeing Facebook. I think YouTube is in trouble because of these efforts to start drawing pictures of the Prophet Muhammad.

MUSHARRAF: Yes.

BLITZER: Is this — is this the right thing for the government of Pakistan to do, to shut down Facebook because of this?

MUSHARRAF: Well, frankly, I’m a great supporter of the Facebook. And that is why my Facebook is on, and it’s going on very, very successfully. And I have been — at CNN I was interviewed as the connector of the day some days back by Becky Anderson.

Having said that, I feel in Pakistan, and in — especially in the Muslim world generally — there is extreme sensitivity, religious sensitivities, of any negative aspersions on the Prophet, not only our prophet, but even on Jesus Christ for that matter. So, therefore, because he’s considered a prophet in the Koran and the Muslims, so these sensitivities must be — must be realized by everyone.

BLITZER: So is it —

MUSHARRAF: And even if I —

BLITZER: Is it the right thing to shut down Facebook in Pakistan?

MUSHARRAF: I think — well, one has to look into the — obviously take some measures because people were agitating. Leave aside — you can’t even print photographs. You cannot have photographs of the prophet, leave aside going for cartoons of the prophet.

It’s most unfortunate. We must understand, these are sensitive issues, and for the sake of independence of media, liberty of speech, we cannot hurt sensitivities of millions of people. We must not do that. I’m against that.

BLITZER: So, basically, if you were president or prime minister of Pakistan, you would be doing exactly the same thing, shutting down Facebook because of this campaign to draw the Prophet Muhammad?

MUSHARRAF: Well, because the people of Pakistan are on the streets agitating. So, therefore, the government has to show and they do believe in the — this aspect that a sensitivity — religious sensitivity is involved.

BLITZER: President Musharraf, when you go back to Pakistan, we want you to be very careful over there, and I know you’re going to get into politics, which is, of course, your right, but just be careful.

MUSHARRAF: Thank you.

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Responses

  1. bring the great president back to pakistan as president of pakistan, i will from truly from heart like to be his body gaurd ,, president 4 ever ,,


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