Posted by: Administrator | 2 December, 2009

President in conversation with Sir Christopher Meyer for Intelligence Squared

29 September 2010

 

Musharraf warns of new military coup in Pakistan

Former Pakistani president General Pervez Musharraf speaks at Kensington Town Hall in central London. …

Wed Sep 29, 6:29 pm ET

LONDON (AFP) – Former President Pervez Musharraf warned Wednesday that Pakistan’s military could launch another coup, as he prepared to launch a new party and rejoin the country’s turbulent politics.

The retired general said army chief Ashfaq Pervez Kayani could be forced to intervene against the government of President Asif Ali Zardari which he said had failed to tackle rampant Islamist militancy and a crumbling economy.

Musharraf — who himself came to power in a coup in 1999 and has lived in London since quitting in 2008 — cited as evidence a reported crisis meeting this week between Kayani, Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Asked whether he thought there was a likelihood of a new coup, he told the Intelligence Squared debating forum in London: “Well, you see the photographs of the meeting with the president and the prime minister and I can assure you they were not discussing the weather.

“There was a serious discussion of some kind or other and certainly at this moment all kinds of pressures must be on this army chief.”

The 67-year-old said similar “pressures” when he was head of the army in the nuclear-armed Islamic republic from 1998 to 1999 had led him to launch the coup against then prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

“In that one year Pakistan was going down and a number of people, including politicians, women, men, came to me telling me ‘Why are you not acting? Are you going to act for Pakistan’s good?” Musharraf said.

“Now I am in a dilemma — the army chief, what does he do? There is no constitutional provision, what does he do?”

Musharraf confirmed that he would launch a new political party in London on Friday to contest the next elections in 2013 but refused to say when he would return to Pakistan, where he could face treason charges.

He said Zardari’s government had failed adequately to deal with Pakistan’s moribund economy, the threat from Taliban militants, and the after effects from devastating floods earlier this year.

Pakistan’s powerful military has ruled the country for over half of the country’s existence since independence from Britain in 1947.

 

Pakistan on the Brink of a Military Coup: Musharraf

Pakistan may be on the brink of a military coup, the country’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf has warned, amidst reports of the powerful army pressing for a shakeup in the nation’s civilian setup.

Musharraf, who is striving to stage a political comeback, has also demanded that the military in Pakistan should be given a defined role in the constitution, but not given the power to overthrow governments. 

Musharraf, who toppled the civilian government of Nawaz Sharif in a bloodless coup in 1999, said the current chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani could be forced to intervene against the civilian government led by President Asif Ali Zardari because of rampant corruption and nepotism.

The 67-year-old former military ruler made these remarks at a debating forum here last night and his comments assume significance in the backdrop of media reports of a crisis meeting this week between Pakistan’s Army chief Kayani, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and President Zardari, where media reports said the powerful General had demanded a shake up in the civilian set up.

“Well, you see the photographs of the meeting of the General, President and the Prime Minister and I can assure you that they were not discussing the weather,” the former General told a Q&A at the forum.

“There was a serious discussion of some kind or the other and certainly at this moment all kinds of pressure must be on this Army chief,” Musharraf, who had hand-picked Kayani, said.

Musharraf, who would officially announce his political comeback tomorrow by launching his party here, recalled that there were similar pressures on him prior to his sacking Nawaz Sharif.

“That year Pakistan was going down and a number of politicians, women and men, came to me telling me ‘Why are you not acting?'” Musharraf told the forum.

According to him, the recipe for Pakistan was to give the Army a constitutional role in governing the nation, which has spent more than half of its independent existence under the jackboots.

“If you want stability in Pakistan, checks and balances in the democratic structure, then the Army ought to have some role,” he said.

Musharraf claimed that after the 9/11 attacks, his support for US government had made him unpopular in Pakistan and a target for the Pakistani Taliban and other extremists.

But he insisted that the US and its allies should finish the job in Afghanistan, urging them not to negotiate with “moderate Taliban” as the Afghan government is attempting to do with the backing of the US and the NATO commander in the country.

“There is no moderate Taliban,” he said. “Show resolve, the message that ought to go to the Taliban is we will finish you, instead of a message…We have to get our boys back. This is a weak message.”

Musharraf strongly rebuffed the widespread belief that Pakistan supports the Taliban in Afghanistan saying they were “the ones that tried to kill me”.

In comments that may anger members of the Pakistan People’s Party, he went on to effectively blame Benazir Bhutto of negligence that led to her death, saying he has “no regrets” about the security provided to the former premier on the day of her assassination.

“There was adequate security provided but security in our environment (Pakistan) is, I would say, never adequate,” Musharraf said.

Musharraf blamed Bhutto for putting herself at risk by standing up through the sunroof of her vehicle.

She was shot and a suicide bomb was detonated shortly afterwards.

Bhutto, who was Pakistan’s prime minister twice, was assassinated at a political rally in Rawalpindi on December 27 2007.

A UN report into her killing, published in April, said her death could have been prevented and criticized the Pakistani intelligence services, police and the government led by Musharraf, for security failures.

Though Musharraf did not comment in the aftermath of the report, however, when asked last night about the UN’s conclusions, he said he had “no regrets”.

Musharraf was being interviewed by the former British ambassador to the US, Christopher Meyer, here last night, where the former military ruler has lived since he stood down as president in 2008 amid widespread protests after nine years in power.

Musharraf: Pakistan’s Military Need Political Role

LONDON (AP) – Pakistan’s former military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, said Wednesday that the country’s armed forces need to play a larger political role, as he discussed plans for his own bid to return to power as a civilian.

Musharraf told a meeting in central London that Pakistan’s army should have a constitutional role, rather than an informal position, in the country’s leadership.

“The situation in Pakistan can only be resolved when the military has some role,” Musharraf said, in a public interview with a former British ambassador to the U.S., Christopher Meyer.

“Pakistan’s army chief ought to be involved in some form, to ensure checks and balances, to ensure good governance,” Musharraf said. “We must involve the military men. They should have a place to voice their concerns.”

Musharraf’s successor as army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, has won praise in Pakistan for focusing the military on fighting insurgents and not disrupting Pakistan’s return to civilian rule.

However, analysts point to rumors that the military is gearing up to engineer an alternative to President Asif Ali Zardari’s elected government. They suggest Musharraf could carve out a space for himself as negotiator between the military and civilian leadership.

Pakistan’s army has ruled the country for about half of the 63 years since its independence from Britain and still retains enormous influence.

Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup and stepped down in 2008 amid nationwide protests, has said he will return to his country for the next set of national elections in 2013. He plans to announce the political platform of the All Pakistan Muslim League in London on Friday.

Although Musharraf had said he is confident he can regain popularity in Pakistan, analysts are doubtful he still wields influence in the country’s military circles. The former leader has no strong connections to Pakistan’s parties, they said, and the electorate is unlikely to welcome a former military dictator back with open arms.

“He is very much yesterday’s man,” said Shaun Gregory, an expert on Pakistan at northern England’s University of Bradford. “He was basically forced out of his army position and the presidency; he was under pressure from several political parties for corruption and the coup in 1999. This is a man with a lot of powerful political enemies in Pakistan.”

Musharraf, 67, suffered a drastic loss of popularity in 2007 after firing the chief justice – who has since been reinstated – and calling a subsequent state of emergency that the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional. He was brought down in August 2008 after months of protests and a heavy election defeat for his supporters.

The former leader now spends most of his time living in Britain and giving private lectures to professionals. His return to Pakistan will almost certainly be greeted by legal challenges by his political opponents.

A crucial U.S. ally in the “war on terror” during his rule, Musharraf may be relying on support from an educated, Westernized Pakistani elite – but his relationship with Washington also means that his standing is poor among a largely anti-U.S. electorate.

“The only thing Musharraf’s got going for him at the moment is the support of diaspora Pakistanis and maybe the army. I cannot see him at the moment generating the necessary power base from the ground,” Gregory said.

A new political party has little chance to make a breakthrough because Pakistani parties tend to draw heavily on ethnic and regional bases, he said.

However, some observers suggest the former leader could also be looking at a comeback in the longer term and potential opportunities beyond the 2013 elections.

“Maybe he’s playing a longer game,” said Gareth Price, who heads the Asia program at London-based think tank Chatham House. “But my sense is that Pakistan has probably moved on.”

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