Posted by: Administrator | 29 January, 2009

President with The Oregonian

News Q&A: Ex-Pakistan leader Pervez Musharraf knocks U.S. timetable for Afghan war

By Richard Read, The Oregonian

March 07, 2010

musharraf.dec.16.2009.JPGPervez MusharrafFormer Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who will speak in Portland on March 15, says U.S. forces should withdraw from Afghanistan in July 2011 only if the war has been won.  In a phone interview Saturday, Musharraf criticized the Obama administration for announcing a withdrawal date.

“In Afghanistan we must defeat al-Qaida,” he said. “We must dominate the Taliban.”

Musharraf — who took power in a 1999 coup and served as Pakistan’s president until he was forced to resign in 2008 — lives in London. On Saturday, speaking after 15 holes of golf in California, the 66-year-old former army chief said he wouldn’t rule out a bid to run for president.

Here are his comments, edited for brevity.

Q: How do you evaluate President Barack Obama’s handling of the war in Afghanistan?

A: They are taking good decisions as far as increasing the level of forces is concerned. This idea of withdrawing by July 2011 and saying it in no uncertain terms has its negative implications.

Q: It encourages the Taliban. It discourages those who are your prospective supporters. It’s as if they’ll be deserted in July 2011 whatever the situation.

A: We must install a legitimate government representative of all the ethnic groups in Afghanistan.

Q: Where is Osama bin Laden?

A: He’s inaccessible. We don’t really know where he is … in the mountainous regions of the tribal agencies of Pakistan, and the tribal agencies in Afghanistan. He can find safe havens there.

Q: Is the current Afghan government not legitimate or representative?

A: There are certain doubts. The Pashtuns are feeling alienated. The dominant role in the government is being played by the Tajiks, and within that the Panjshiris.

Q: Should the Taliban have a role in the Afghan government?

A: Pashtuns should have a role. I am differentiating between Pashtuns and Taliban.

Q: You and Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, are reportedly still in touch. Would the military want to resume a role in Pakistan’s government?

A: I’m not that much in touch with him at all. The military is there to safeguard the integrity of Pakistan.

Q: So you don’t see a coup developing?

A: No, I don’t think so.

Q: How stable is Pakistan?

A: Pakistan is very stable. There’s no problem.

Q: You’ve said that your successor, President Asif Ali Zardari, is a criminal. What sort of job is he doing now?

A: No comment.

Q: Madrassas (Islamic schools) continue to multiply in Pakistan. Why didn’t you crack down on them as president, and what should be done about them now?

A: We did a lot.

I thought we were having an interview on my lecture circuit.

Q: Is there anything you would have done differently as president?

A: We wanted to mainstream the madrassa students, so they could follow professions other than becoming clerics. That I couldn’t achieve. But we registered the madrassas and ensured there were no foreigners there. There were thousands of them, without valid documents. We got rid of all of them.

Q: Is Pakistan’s intelligence service, which backed the Taliban before, positioning itself to control eventual negotiations with the Taliban?

A: No, no, no. Our method has been to wean away Pashtuns from the Taliban. That’s how we got into deals with the Pashtuns, which are misrepresented as if they were deals with the Taliban. All Pashtuns are not Taliban.

Q: You wrote in your book, “In the Line of Fire,” that you began an irreversible process toward emancipation of women. How much progress is being made now?

A: We have empowered them politically and economically also. Women are represented at every tier of government. We equated their salaries with men. They can fight for their causes, their rights.

Q: Would you, or could you, return to Pakistan?

A: Well, that depends on the people of Pakistan. If at all, I have to be democratically elected. One has to wait for the next elections.

Q: So you are interested in becoming president again?

A: I’m watching. I’m just watching.

Q: What are your activities now?

A: Basically I’m on the lecture circuit.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: