Posted by: Administrator | 15 April, 2010

Pervez Musharraf speaks exclusively to NDTV’s Barkha Dutt

9 October 2010
London:  Speaking exclusively to NDTV’s Group Editor Barkha Dutt, former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf has  said that there is great public support in Pakistan for groups like the Laskhar-e-Toiba, but these groups were not raised during his tenure.

Barkha Dutt: General Musharraf, one thing, I think, that your fiercest critics will grant you, is that you have always been someone who has been willing to take chances, who has been willing to think unconventionally. Do we take your decision to launch a political party at this stage, when many believe that you cannot ever return to Pakistan – to be one such example of President Musharraf, old style, taking chances?

Pervez Musharraf: No. I would say I believe in the Napoleonic theory of decision-making, which is, two-third of any decision is calculation, and analysis, and data inputs, one third is always a leap in the dark. So any leader – anyone who tries to increase the two third, is not a leader. He suffers from paralysis through analysis. And anyone who will try to increase the one third is impulsive. I am not impulsive. I calculate, analyse, get all the inputs, but I am prepared to take the risks in the leap in the dark of the one-third. People who don’t take all the risks are no leaders. So I would say that I have made all the calculations, and I personally think that there is a fair chance of doing something good for Pakistan. I am not doing anything for myself. I am very happy. I am doing my lecture tours, I go all over the world, I am coming very soon to Delhi. Yes, indeed. Just now I am coming from Hong Kong, Stockholm, and then back here. I am now going to United States, and the Canada, and then to Nigeria. So I have no problems. But I am doing something from Pakistan. But then I analyse, can I do something for Pakistan? Is the environment right? I think the environment is right, and I think I can. The two-thirds calculation tells me that. But the one-third is a chance and it’s a gut reaction, it’s my sixth sense, and it’s better to try and fail rather than not try at all.

Barkha Dutt: Many commentators in your own country have suggested that in this case, the one-third leap in the dark – the numerical ratio might be slightly larger, because most people believe, as the PM of Pakistan has said, that if Pervez Musharraf returns to Pakistan, the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice awaits him.

Pervez Musharraf: They will receive me at the airport, for which I am very happy. This is the first time the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court receives somebody at the airport.

Barkha Dutt: They might receive you and take you to jail.

Pervez Musharraf: (Laughs) No. There is no case against me. At the moment, there is no case against me in the courts – at this moment, right? But I know that there are people, political opponents, who would like to politically defame me, and scare me, and malign me, by initiating cases against me. I know that they will not have any legal strength so I am prepared to face them in the courts. And the more I have political strength, the easier it will be for me to live in Pakistan.

Barkha Dutt: But you are aware that your country’s judiciary has no love lost for you – that was in a sense a point at which perhaps your own political fortunes, dramatically somersaulted.

Pervez Musharraf: Yes, indeed.

Barkha Dutt: So when Yousuf Gilani says that the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice would await you, there is a double edge to that statement.

Pervez Musharraf: (laughs) Yeah I know. But these are all political statements let me tell you. They are all political statements. Some of them are trying to scare me. Most of them are trying to scare me so that I don’t come, because they are scared themselves. That is the issue. So therefore, while they are scared and they are alarmed – initially they were saying that I am not going to enter politics, and my time is gone. Now that I went at politics, now they are more scared. Now they are saying I will never come, while I will go – I know I will go.

Barkha Dutt: When will you go? Do you have a timeline for when you will be back in Pakistan?

Pervez Musharraf: I don’t have a timeline as such, except broad parameters that I will be there before the next elections. My objective is the next elections. My objective is not to destabilise the government and create more confusion and more chaos in the country, adding to whatever chaos exists in Pakistan. My intension is to win in next elections, through the democratic means, so I am preparing for that. So I will be there.

Barkha Dutt: Even if you are taken to jail?

Pervez Musharraf: Yes, yes absolutely. If the judiciary thinks that there are legal grounds for me to go to jail, yes indeed, I am prepared. Bu there is no legal ground. I know, I have also analysed this, I have also discussed this with all my lawyers, and I have the most prominent lawyers of Pakistan who are supporting me.

Barkha Dutt: Well, there is the case of the assassination of Bukhti and there are questions raised over Benazir’s killing. And whether your regime at that point provided adequate security, there are charges that you actually distorted and played with Pakistan’s Constitution, you sacked sixty judges. A lot of this could form basis for charges – they are not trivial charges.

Pervez Musharraf: Well you talked about Benazir’s assassination, Bukhti. I am not remotely connected with them. The President of Pakistan is not remotely connected with what is happening, if some anti-State elements are battling the frontier core and the army in Baluchistan, and in the process people die, right? No, the President does not get involved. There is a Frontier core commander, there is a commander, there is a governor, there is the Chief Minister, and the Prime Minister, then comes the President. So as I said, there are no legal grounds. And if someone gets assassinated in Rawalpindi, how does the President get involved in this? So these are all politically motivated cases. As far as the action in 2007, and 2008, the Constitution, when I came into power, these have been validated by the Supreme Court. As far as 2007 is concerned, in position of the Emergency, (it was) validated by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, and even the National Assembly by the way. So I know these can be only initiated on political grounds and there is the strongest defense against all of them. And I have the strongest lawyers available to me, ready to help.

Barkha Dutt: We will go through this one by one, but when you launched your political party, you also apologised to the country for certain decisions that you took, that you said, had negative repercussions. And you apologised to your nation. If you were to look back and look at that single most decision that you do regret, that you do believe was a mistake that you made, that if you had to do it all over again, you would not do that. What would be that thing?

Pervez Musharraf: I think it is the NRO. I think the state has had very, very negative effects on the country, as I said. But every decision that I took, had a background to it, which I am explaining to the nation. I apologised on those decisions, which may (have) been right, but had a bad impact on the State. Like for example, in March 2007, my moving reference against the Chief Justice of Pakistan – although it was legally, constitutionally, to the word and absolutely correct, but since it had a negative impact on the state, and we went into turbulence, although again, all the socio- economic factors, if you are talking of the socio-economic development of Pakistan, and the upliftment of the State, the welfare, well being of its people, poverty alleviation, controlling of the inflation, job creation, unemployment control, education, health – all of them were doing very well even in 2007 and 2008. But since it had a negative, political turmoil, that is what I said. So, also the NRO. The NRO had a background, that I did not take this decision on my own. There were some – especially the political leadership at that time, on whose advice I went to meet Benazir, and on whose advice I did this.

Barkha Dutt: Why was it a mistake? It facilitated both the return of Benazir, and in a sense, Nawaz Sharif. It facilitated the democratic process, and the return of mainstream politicians to Pakistan. Why was it a mistake?

Pervez Musharraf: No, no. I think one is that itself. It did facilitate, but then the political turmoil. And more than that, the turmoil in Pakistan now. So much negativism (is) going on, on the issue of NRO. So much of upheaval, so much of conflict, so it has lead to a lot of turmoil, and conflict in the political arena on the issue of NRO. So therefore I think it was wrong.

Barkha Dutt: You also indicated that on the basis on which you took on the Chief Justice and the judiciary were compelling reasons. The political ramifications of this were negative. In simple terms, because I know you are somebody who speaks your mind, you don’t obfuscate, you don’t beat around the bush. Do you regret taking on? (Interrupted by Musharraf)

Pervez Musharraf: I think you are going to ask a very difficult question now.

Barkha Dutt: Not at all. Very simple – do you regret having taken on the Chief Justice of Pakistan?

Pervez Musharraf: As I said, because it led to turmoil, the handling of the Chief Justice of Pakistan was bad, which I do regret – being done by low level police officers, which was bad, which again led to more agitation in the streets by the lawyers, but then it was politicised. I think it finally led to my unpopularity, my popularity graph going down. So therefore I do regret, yes.

Barkha Dutt: Do you believe had you not done that, you might still have been President?

Pervez Musharraf: No. I think a lot more happened, because the assassination of Benazir happened. She violated the agreement actually. She was not supposed to come before the elections. Now that she came, and she got assassinated. So the PMLQ which were supposed to be my supporters lost the elections. If they had won in the elections, I would have remained the President even now. Now that they lost, maybe I could have remained as the President obstinately to the position. But then I realised, if I stick on, and even if we defeat the impeachment that they were trying, I would be sitting in the Presidency like a vegetable… (Interrupted)

Barkha Dutt: Like a puppet?

Pervez Musharraf: Like a puppet, yes. Worse, no say in anything and the government, the cabinet, and the assemblies talking against me, hurling insults at me, and I not replying, and I not contributing towards Pakistan. So what is the point in being like, err, I don’t want to name some of the ex-Presidents who preferred living there and used to do nothing.

Barkha Dutt: As in, you don’t mean the present one, or do you include him as well?

Pervez Musharraf: No, I don’t want to talk about the present one.

Barkha Dutt: You mention Benazir’s assassination. The United Nations report basically said that she was not provided security that was due to her. You headed that regime, you were in talks with her, you were involved in bringing her back in Pakistan, such as it was. Given the threat perception against her, from Baitullah Mehsood and others, is this not a sense eventually something that should weigh on your conscience, that Benazir died under your watch, under your government’s watch?

Pervez Musharraf: No, not at all, it’s not weighing on me at all. We provided her with all the protection. Unfortunately, all these people who come and start reporting, all these people who are not from Pakistan, they come from the West and they come from countries which may be developed, and where things are very well organised, and institutions are very well developed and efficient. They come and start seeing Pakistan idealistically. Now as far as I am concerned, all the protection was provided, and the proof of that is, Benazir came to the venue – she was safe, isn’t it? So who was providing the protection when she came? She stayed at the venue for one and a half hour and addressed thousands of people – she was again safe. Who was providing the protection? Then she walks out, mingles with the people, gets in the car, she is safe – who was providing the protection? Then there are four other people I think, sitting in the car, she decides to get out of the car, and unfortunately she was killed. The other four (were) absolutely safe. So who was providing all that protection? I mean isn’t this really sad that people continuously say that the government didn’t provide protection? They did provide all the protection and that how she was safe throughout. The decision to get out of the car – I don’t know who had told her, that was most unfortunate.

Barkha Dutt: So are you saying that she in a sense took a risk and that’s where the whole controversy around her assassination is?

Pervez Musharraf: Yes, of course she took a risk. She took a risk in Karachi, when I had told her. I personally rang her up only on once, and that was then, because I had got information from our very brotherly country that there will be assassination attempts, there are suicide bomber squads, who are there. And I did tell her myself, that don’t take this risk from the airport onwards (as) there will be something. And I told her, if you don’t believe me, I am telling you something which has been told from outside – (but) she took the risk. And there were bomb explosions. Something, anything could have happened, if those people were very close. And in Rawalpindi, it happened. The security was there also, and security in any case, here at the Rawalpindi jalsa. By the way, the security was taken over by the people’s party – we call them ‘Jialas’. They are the ones who were around and doing everything. So I think, and the person, the Superintendent of Police who was there in charge, I think got a very good posting after that.

Barkha Dutt: So you are saying that she was responsible in a sense for her own assassination?

Pervez Musharraf: See, leaders, political leaders obviously have to be a part of the people. And she was one such leader who was a part of the people. She was popular among her own party and the people. So therefore, I believe a leader can’t become a hermit and be away from the people. So when people are cheering, and a political leader does get motivated to stand up and wave.

Barkha Dutt: But there was that man in the crowd with a pistol. How did he get in?

Pervez Musharraf: There were hundreds of thousands of people. If one man is carrying a pistol, I mean, I am very sure, how did somebody get close to Rajiv Gandhi, and (the) poor man got killed. How did that woman come and even shake hands with him?

Barkha Dutt: For decades India has debated who was responsible for Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination? It wasn’t a simple open and shut case.

Pervez Musharraf: It can happen anytime. These things happen. One can’t blame anyone. The security – it is very, very difficult to have absolutely a zero chance. Things can happen anytime. If a man or a woman is there ready to blow himself or herself up and kill the other person, hardly anyone can stop that. There is no… I only hope and pray that we develop a technical means of finding out whether a person is carrying explosives. Otherwise I mean it is almost near impossible. Blaming security – every time we blame security. What can they do if a suicide bomber comes and blows himself up and destroys. Poor people, it is they who get killed. It is the police who gets killed in Pakistan. I dread to say this, so many policemen get killed. I used to feel very, very guilty when so many policemen around were protecting me, so that they die themselves. I mean we should salute them for doing all this, instead of blaming them that security was bad. It is their lives at stake. It is people’s lives at stake, so therefore I don’t blame the police or security for anything. They do their maximum; they put their lives at stake.

Barkha Dutt: But you know, there was Benazir’s old email before she was killed, documenting her suspicions that sections in the security establishment were out to basically get her life.

Pervez Musharraf: All politicised issues. All politics. Unfortunately in Pakistan, everything gets distorted for political gains, so no, I don’t believe that at all.

Barkha Dutt: Talking about the mistakes that you made, many people who chronicle your nine years in office, almost a decade in which Pakistan changed so much, and there was your whole philosophy of enlightened moderation which we will talk about in just a minute. But, do you believe that towards the end you made a fatal mistake by trying to occupy two posts – the Head of the Army, as well as the President of the country, and that was in a sense a political miscalculation?

Pervez Musharraf: No, not at all. I was bearing four posts. I was holding four posts for nine years (corrects himself) for three years. I was the Army Chief, I was the Chairman Joint Chief of the Staff Committee, I was the Prime Minister, and I was the President.

Barkha Dutt: But should you have been all these four things?

Pervez Musharraf: No. I couldn’t have, because yes, I was too tired. I had to visit about five offices and give decisions in each one of them. So then I started shedding the… and you know I had a three stage transition in my mind. And the three years, the first three years, which everyone says was the golden period, I was wearing four hats. And actually the transformation of Pakistan took place in those four years, where I had selected the Cabinet, and I had selected the ministers and governors of course. That was the first stage. In the second stage, I shed off my Prime Minister ship or the Chief Executive, I shed off the (post of the) Chairman. So I now was wearing two hats – the Army Chief and the President, from 2002- 2007. And in 2007, I had decided that in 2007, after my election, I will shed off my uniform, so I will only have one. I will be the President of Pakistan beyond 2007. So this was my design for the smooth democratic transition in Pakistan.

Barkha Dutt: Should you have done it sooner you think?

Pervez Musharraf: No. Sooner? What?

Barkha Dutt: In the sense of giving up the post of at least the Chief of Army?

Pervez Musharraf: No, I personally think that I should have asked for another five years after the first three years were gone. Because we were interrupted by 9/11 and all the plans that I had for Pakistan, couldn’t be implemented by me, so I decided to hold the elections because three years were given to me by the Supreme Court. With hindsight I personally think I should have taken some more time to deliver on all that I was trying to do and we were moving forward. I should have carried on for sometime. But anyway, that is the past. Now, no I shouldn’t have. Democratically, I mean we shouldn’t interfere with the democratic process. There were five years of the Assembly and I always said that after five years, there will be another elections. Let there be a first time that the Assemblies complete their tenure, otherwise they never did in the past. Historically in Pakistan, the assemblies used always used to be dissolved before they completed their tenure. So this was the first time that I said no, I will ensure that the Assemblies complete their tenure, whatever. So we did that so that democracy, real values set in Pakistan. So after those five years, I was supposed to hold elections and I did. But unfortunate turmoil that was in 2007, and then assassination of Benazir, and then all that happened.

Barkha Dutt: Talk a little bit about how you see the role of the army in the current situation in Pakistan. Because many people, and now I am talking from an Indian perspective- and one of the places where the India – Pakistan peace process is stuck, is that while the Indian government is talking to the civilian government, the perception is, that we are talking to somebody, and set of people who actually don’t wield power, that it is the military that continues to wield power behind the scenes. Is that your assessment as well, that effectively, General Kayani is running the country?

Pervez Musharraf: No, not at all. I mean these are misperceptions created all over the world that the army is powerful. There is no doubt about it. The army is the only organised institution – disciplined oraganised, stable, institution which integrates Pakistan. It is an integrative force and it is the strength of Pakistan. Pakistan’s unity, Pakistan’s integrity, is guaranteed by the Armed Forces of Pakistan. To that extent, they are powerful, but that doesn’t mean that they run the govt. How does the government run? I mean these are statements given by people who don’t know, who don’t even understand what is government. A government is run through a Cabinet, through ministers, through cabinet meetings, and then through heads of corporations, heads of institutions. Where does army feature?  Is the Army Chief or the Army core Commander sitting in any of these meetings? Or is he holding any cabinet meeting? So how can he be running the country? The Cabinet runs the government (interrupted by Barkha).

Barkha Dutt: For example, the New York Times recently reported that General Kayani read the Riot Act to the Prime Minister, asking him who should stay in the government, and who should go? When there was the whole turmoil around the National Reconciliation Ordinance, the Prime Minister, and the President did have meetings with the Army Chief.

Pervez Musharraf: Now you are not talking about running the government here, see… (Interrupted)

Barkha Dutt: I am talking about exercising control over the government, not the day to day running.

Pervez Musharraf: Then you should say that.

Barkha Dutt: Okay, exercising control over the government, not the day-to-day running.

Pervez Musharraf: So therefore, we are clear that the army does not control. Now, exercising control over the government – no, not on every issue at all. They don’t interfere in governance, not at all. I am not saying that just because I am giving an interview to you. We don’t interfere, but what happens, now, let me put it very realistically to you – unfortunately, historically in Pakistan, every democratic civilian government has misperformed. And this is an irony – this is just very unfortunate. And it’s not me who says that because I was an Army Chief – it is the people of Pakistan. Why have governments not been completing their tenure? It is the people of Pakistan who have been running to the Army Chief – including politicians, who run to the Army Chief. They make a beeline – do something, save the country. This is what happens. Now what does the Army Chief do? He does go, and talk to the Prime Minister whatever he is hearing from the people. Now to that extent I would say, the Army Chief is a good check and balance on good performance of the government. But however, I believe strongly that this check and balance which is inherent naturally to Pakistan’s political reality, political scenario, should be institutionalised. And that is where people start blaming me that I want army in the politics of Pakistan.

Barkha Dutt: But you do.

Pervez Musharraf: No, I don’t. Not at all.

Barkha Dutt: You are talking about institutionalising an interface by which the army can actually have their say in policy and politics.

Pervez Musharraf: Hold on. What am I saying? There is a way of doing it. Is there a way of doing it? See every decision, every system runs on the environment. Indian environment is different, Pakistan environment is different. In Pakistan, whatever I have said happens. In India it doesn’t happen. People don’t run to the Army Chief. In Pakistan they do.

Barkha Dutt: Shouldn’t that stop?

Pervez Musharraf: It should stop. But again, it is the country which is important. If tomorrow, India is falling, what would you say? Democracy is important or the State is important? If the democracy is not ensuring the integrity of the State, which one is important? Should you save the State so that Democracy is saved, or you save democracy and the State finishes, and democracy – you can sit with the democracy then? That is the issue. And we must realistically – we must not be looking at this hypocritically, and just because Army is there and it should not, theoretically yes, I agree with you. In any theory of democracy, yes I will agree with you, the army should keep away. But when the people of Pakistan, including politicians – reinforce, including politicians, are running to the general headquarters, and asking them. Let me tell you my experience. I was the Army Chief for one year. Women were coming to me and asking when you will act? When Pakistan finishes? This is the environment of Pakistan, whether you like it or not, whether the world likes it or not, this is the environment. So therefore you have to come to a solution based on this environment. And therefore, now we have to see, Okay, now what does the Army Chief do when these people go? Does he take over? Or no, let’s give him a way out. He goes to the Prime Minister and advises him something or the other, I don’t know. And I know that from my time, when I came into some position of authority, when I was Director General, Military Operations, General Headquarters, I know after that, every Chief used to be approached, and they used to go to the Prime Minister after that. I used to be approached for one year, and I used to go to the Prime Minister. Now if the Prime Minister is not acting on that, and the nation and the State are still crying, the people are crying and still approaching them, so therefore I thought, the institutional check and, and important point to make sure that democracy functions – anywhere, is to make it according to the environment, and have checks and balances. Lot of people say we should have a Presidential system, Parliamentary system – any system will function when there are checks and balances. No system will work if you don’t have checks and balances – it will be absolutely violative. Therefore I thought that the National Security Council which I created, is not a supra body. It will not be involved in the politics of Pakistan, it will not be a supra body over the National Assembly and the Senate. It will just be a body for a discussion and debate on National Security issues. Its composition was such. And in the composition, other than the President, the Prime Minister, leader of Opposition, Speaker of Assembly, Chairman, Senate, four Chief Ministers, I thought the four military men should be sitting there. Now they have no authority of running the government. This body is not to interfere in the National Assembly and the Senate. It is just that the Prime Minister is there, and now the Army Chief is also sitting there, and there are twelve people – they put joint pressure on a Prime Minister if he is not performing, that he must perform. And then they put their put their joint pressure on the President to act against the government or the Prime Minister, because they are not performing, instead of one man – the Army Chief  who has the sole decision whether to throw out this or not.

Barkha Dutt: But you agree to the extension that was given to General Kayani, and how would you access the role he has played in the interface with politics and the turmoil within Pakistan?

Pervez Musharraf: He is a professional and he has played a good role and I don’t want to comment on that. It is the government’s prerogative to give him an extension, which they have. All I will say is that he is a professional; he is doing his best to contribute his bit to Pakistan.

Barkha Dutt: Many people say that he has all the power without any of the responsibility.

Pervez Musharraf: Again, you have come back to the same question (smiles). No, he heads a powerful organisation, but he does not have any Constitutional power.

Barkha Dutt: The Indian perception on the India-Pak relationship is that the Army, even today, has the ultimate Veto power on any peace process, any policy initiative with India. Do you agree with it?

Pervez Musharraf: Negative. Absolutely negative.

Barkha Dutt: Do you think the civilian government today is empowered today to initiate any policy decision on an issue like Kashmir for example?

Pervez Musharraf: Absolutely. But I think it would be wise to take everyone on board. This Kashmir issue is a very serious issue, therefore the military and people of Azad Kashmir – our part of Kashmir, the APHC which is in the Indian part of Kashmir should be on board if the deal, or the agreement, or the peace agreement, has to stand. And this is what I was doing. I even met Farooq Abdullah.

Barkha Dutt: And his son too I think, you met Omar Abdullah… (Interrupted)

Pervez Musharraf: Yes, Omar Abdullah?

Barkha Dutt:  Yes, Omar is the one you met, yes.

Pervez Musharraf: Yes sorry, Omar Abdullah. Farooq Abdullah was the father. So I met Omar, I met every APHC leader. I met all the leadership in Azad Kashmir, and the military men, and the Cabinet. I was taking everyone along. Otherwise the deal will fall apart, and I think that is the case even now. If the civil government in Pakistan has to reach an agreement, they have to take everyone along. But if you think that it’s the Army which torpedoes everything, then negative. Absolutely not. And people, the argument may be the next question you are going to ask, because the army is going to lose its significance or something. This is what everyone thinks that the army interferes, they just don’t want settlement, because then they will lose their own significance and importance.

Barkha Dutt: Importance, and there is a mindset that is oriented towards India in a certain way, isn’t there?

Pervez Musharraf: Yes there is, and in a certain way, and let me tell you it is because of your forces. There is a threat. All armed forces of Pakistan are basing its military strategy on a defensive deterrence, and it sees a threat. It evaluates threat and formulates its response. Now what is the threat that it sees? I don’t know whether you know about your military. Let me tell you about your military. You have got thirty three divisions, infantry divisions, maybe there are more now, 25 are against Pakistan, eight of them against China, Bangladesh and Assam, etcetera. You have got three armor divisions, all three against Pakistan. You have got, I think, two, three mechanised divisions, all of them against Pakistan. Your air force, the forward air bases, which are supposed to be the airbases which are activated in case of offensive, all against Pakistan. So this is what we are seeing. What an Army Chief sees, so okay, this is the threat, so I will, I will.

Barkha Dutt: The counter argument… (Interrupted)

Pervez Musharraf: So what I will do, is that I will deploy my forces, I will deploy this much force. So the significance of Pakistan military will be there as long as this threat is posed to Pakistan, whether Kashmir is resolved or not.

Barkha Dutt: The counter argument of course, and not to get trapped in that India- Pakistan stalemate, but the counter argument of course is that there is terrorism being imported across the Line of Control (LoC). Now, I want to ask you something about what you said this past week in an interview to a German magazine that grabbed Indian eyeballs at least. An admission for the first time of the world’s worst kept secret: that there are underground militant groups, not just trained in camps in Pakistan, but also sent across the LoC as the Pakistan army looks the other way. You have since said that you were misquoted, but many people believe that you actually spoke the truth. You never shied away from speaking the truth. When you were president, you actually tried to reduce infiltration across the LoC and those numbers have come down. So why renege on speaking the truth? Why are you trying to come back from what you said very honestly?

Pervez Musharraf: No, I didn’t say that they were. I said certain things which were taken as such. Now first of all saying that I was doing that, first of all that argument has to be killed. Mujahideen groups came into being after the freedom struggle in Kashmir started in 1989, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Hizbul Mujahideen are products of 1991…

Barkha Dutt: But Lashkar-e-Toiba is not an indigenous Kashmiri group. It’s a terrorist…

Pervez Musharraf: But what I’m trying to prove is, associating me with doing that. I was nothing in 1991; I was a brigadier, so I could not in that interview certainly be saying that I was; my government was doing this. We came into being in 1999-2000. When Lakshar-e-Toiba, Hizbul Mujahideen, Jaish-e- Mohammed… when all this and many others came into being in the 1990s. Now many of them, Hizbul Mujahideen started from Kashmir.

Barkha Dutt: What is the Lakshar-e-Toiba as a group for you? For India it’s a terrorist organisation. For you what is it?

Pervez Musharraf: We will enter into a debate, where one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

Barkha Dutt: So is the Lakshar-e-Toiba a freedom fighter group for you?

Pervez Musharraf: From our point of view anyone who is fighting in Kashmir, your part of Kashmir, is a Mujahid who’s fighting for the freedom, for the rights of the people of Kashmir.

Barkha Dutt: Using acts of terror that often see innocent women, children killed?

Pervez Musharraf: As…as…as.. just a minute, as enshrined in the UN Charter, by the UN recognized as a dispute, okay. Now the other part: Terrorism; they are fighting against the Indian Army and Indian Army is killing the civilians. So who is the terrorist? Isn’t the Indian Army also a terrorist then? I think we are going to enter into a discussion where you won’t prove anything, I also won’t prove anything.

Barkha Dutt: I want to go beyond this because you have spoken extremism and terrorism being the key challenges before Pakistan, and the reason I ask about LeT is because after the Mumbai attacks of 26/11, we have the David Headley confessions or the interrogation report and we have independent CIA reports and they all talking about the involvement of the LeT and some say some even backing from not just sections of the ISI but even army majors who have been named in the Mumbai attacks. Now what do the Mumbai attacks have to do with Kashmir, and the LeT has been implicated in the Mumbai attacks.

Pervez Musharraf: Okay… Now yes I was talking of the history in the 1990s, these organisations came into being and they had great public sympathy. Everyone in Pakistan knew it, every individual in Pakistan knew that people are volunteering to go and they are going into Kashmir to fight the Indian Army.

Barkha Dutt: With the covert help of the Pakistan establishment?

Pervez Musharraf: No, I never said that. This is the point I was making. I never said that.

Barkha Dutt: How did they get across the Line of Control?

Pervez Musharraf: Have you been to the LoC?

Barkha Dutt: Often. And I know it is porous of course. I know it’s porous.

Pervez Musharraf: If even I go there today, at this age, even I will be able to cross; nobody will be able to detect me. I will be able to infiltrate and go deep inside okay. Because there are gaps and it’s a porous border. It’s a mountain area and the more north you go, and if you are capable of walking in the snow you can go across anywhere. Right? So they are capable of doing it and they are motivated and indoctrinated. People are themselves… they don’t need training – they themselves want to go; they want to learn and want to go. The turn came when I came on the scene in 1999-2000, and then 9/11 also happened. These people turned their guns inwards, towards Pakistan and me. Right? There were suicide attacks on me. That’s because I joined the coalition forces in Afghanistan, took a decision to join. And they turned their gun on me and that is before 9/11, I had bent many of the organisations. Right? But fighting against the Indian Army in Kashmir we call them Mujahideen, and we need to settle the Kashmir dispute because its enshrined in the UN, it’s a dispute recognised by the UN.

Barkha Dutt: Do you justify the use of violence, especially when it comes from groups that are not even native to the Indian side of Kashmir valley – groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed – do you justify the use of violence. I thought the world had shifted after 9/11 in our consensus, (but) is that not how you address the political issue?

Pervez Musharraf: Well, we have to go for a peace agreement. In 60 years now, if we don’t reach peace, the public themselves, whether you like or not, whether you support or not, is prepared to go in because of their involvement (and) sympathy. Now do you justify not reaching an agreement for 60 years and violating UN nation charter? Do you justify that?
Barkha Dutt: The fact is…

Pervez Musharraf: No, no… do you justify that?

Barkha Dutt: I believe Kashmir should be resolved politically. I believe in your time we came the closest we ever did, in fact, in reaching the solution and I will come to the Kashmir in a moment, but I want to pick up as what you said how many of these groups turned against Pakistan,  including against you. One of the things that Indians worry about is the Pakistan’s security establishment has been selective in treating some groups as enemies that need to be crushed, which we are seeing today, and using some groups as assets and playing with fire. The LeT or people like Hafiz Saeed or groups like Jamat-u-Dawa till this date have been treated like Pakistan’s strategic assets, and that is where India and Pakistan are stuck, after Mumbai. Do you at least share this assessment?

Pervez Musharraf: After Mumbai?

Barkha Dutt: After the Mumbai attacks and the implication of the LeT and the clear involvement in the Mumbai attacks, do you believe the Pakistan regime needs to stop the treating the Hafiz Saeeds and Lashkar-e-Toiba as an asset?

Pervez Musharraf: We are getting involved in complex issues. The complexity is that Pakistan and India have always been on a confrontationist’s course. This has been promoted by the intelligence agencies the RAW and the ISI. RAW is doing a lot in Baluchistan and I know it for sure. RAW is supporting terrorism in Baluchistan. RAW is supporting the grandson of Bugti sitting in Kabul. The man visits Delhi and is received by the RAW. All the training of the terrorists, getting arms and being sent in Baluchistan, is being aided and abetted by India.

So it is a big story. That is also wrong, and any involvement in Mumbai is absolutely wrong. Anyone who has done it needs to be punished. There is no doubt and I would say it openly. Both sides need to stop all this but do not make it one sided. Do not ever say that.

 I don’t know what ISI is doing, but ISI is staffed for counter- intelligence, for ensuring the security of Pakistan as RAW is staffed. So therefore, they are both doing the same job. How they do it, leave it, I don’t want to discuss it, because we will end up… I mean, if I was to go into what happened in East Pakistan, you say our half our country. So what are you talking about… what are you blaming anyone for? Bangladesh is there because of Indian forces which attacked Pakistan, right…

Barkha Dutt: And I agree we can’t be going back in to history but I want to ask you, are you concerned, as somebody who has launched a political party, who will go back to the Pakistan, who has served as Pakistan’s army chief and as President, are you concerned about the recent reports including Bob Woodward’s book, that suggests that section of the ISI were connected to the Mumbai attacks?

Pervez Musharraf: I don’t think so. It would be mad for anyone getting connected in this present situation of terrorism and the extremism, when they know who is who. Now handling them is not as easy as you made it. Lashkar-e-Toiba came into being in 1990. I think they are there since 20 years. You name Jamaat-ud- Dawa – Jamaat-ud-Dawa was one of the best performers in the relief during the earthquake and even now in flood so they have…

Barkha Dutt: But does that justify their other policies?

Pervez Musharraf: They have certain popularity with the public, so, therefore, to handle and deal with them requires some finesse. Don’t think that you can go there and mass our army in two divisions and attack them and kill them and thousands of people. It cannot be done like that. You have extremist organisations – now should I start naming them, I don’t want to – within India. Has the Indian government moved against them to destroy them? Aren’t there extremist organisations there?

Barkha Dutt: They have not launched terror attacks on Pakistan?

Pervez Musharraf: They have launched terror attack on your population when 3000 Muslims were killed. So let us not discuss this. You please understand – we do a lot of harm to each other. The best solution is to stop it stop RAW, stop the ISI, stop everyone. The governments have to be strong enough resolve disputes. Otherwise this sort of confrontation will continue and I would shudder. May I say that even this Mumbai or Parliament attack – the terrorists don’t want any peace between India and Pakistan.

Barkha Dutt: They don’t want…
Pervez Musharraf: So when you create war hysteria just because of the Mumbai attack or the Parliament attack, the ISI or the government of Pakistan or the army would be mad to do that under the present circumstances. They will not do that so therefore to blame them and create a war hysteria within the state, and everyone without understanding – all your politicians start demanding, let us punish Pakistan, let us attack them and defeat them, this and that, as if the Pakistan’s army are wearing bangles. They are going to counter-attack and we will end up in war. So how can you say these things? So therefore, while everything wrong has been done and I don’t want to specify by RAW or by the ISI, this confrontation  between them must stop and the root is dissolve disputes,  and this what I have been saying always. This what I said to Vajpayee sahab and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who I respect very much – both of them – that we must resolve disputes that are the root cause.

Barkha Dutt: Many people believe – on both sides, that your famous four point formula for Kashmir remains the only pragmatic template within which Kashmir can be resolved. Do you feel a little upset that the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government has kind of dismissed the theory, that this came quite close to a solution, and how close – if you can share more details with us than you have in the past. How close did our countries come to a solution?

Pervez Musharraf: You said it and let me tell you very proudly, those parameters are mine. I thought of them, because I realised that when I was talking to everyone on Pakistan side, the Indian side, the dispute is the Kashmir dispute. What is the solution? Not one of them ever gave me a solution. So therefore, that set me thinking, and that is where I came into this issue of demilitarisation, maximum self governance, this over-watch and all that, and making the LoC irrelevant. Now you asked me how close we were, we were as close as drafting the final agreement.

Barkha Dutt: Were there drafts shared on both sides?

Pervez Musharraf: Yes, of course, through back channel. Yes, we were discussing. Some good English was required; I wish you were there to form some sentences.

Barkha Dutt: What was the block? Why did it suddenly fall through? Why did it not go through? Why is the present government denying the existence of any such draft?

Pervez Musharraf: Who is denying?

Barkha Dutt: When we pose this question to the PPP government in Pakistan they say there is no paper.

Pervez Musharraf: What does your government say?

Barkha Dutt: I think our government indicates that this four point formula was a template and we were almost there.

Pervez Musharraf: I mean frankly I don’t want to get involved in that. I’ve told you…(Interrupted by Barkha)

Barkha Dutt: No. Where did it fall through? What was the stumbling block?

Pervez Musharraf: As I said we were drafting and in fact on the other two issues we could have signed any day.

Barkha Dutt: Which were the other two issues?

Pervez Musharraf: Siachen, and Sir Creek, we could have signed any day. We carried out the joint survey by the two navies of the Sir Creek area and we know exactly the disputed area in the land and in the sea. A joint survey and we could have reached an agreement. On Siachen, where we needed to withdraw the forces and the demiliatrised zone, we could have reached an agreement. I mean if the two leaders decide to sign they will, they can, and Kashmir was the issue….

Barkha Dutt: How close did it come on Kashmir? Was there a specific draft on Kashmir in the back channels, or given your four point formula?

Pervez Musharraf: Well it was being formed. The draft was being formulated, that is the good thing, and it was being formulated in good spirit.

Barkha Dutt: And in your conversations with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, did you get a sense that there is a readiness in the Indian side to move ahead on this formula?

Pervez Musharraf: Yes, I think I keep saying if you reach peace you are required to be sincere and flexible. I think on both counts I will give full marks to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his sincerity and flexibility towards peace, towards agreement. The third area is the touchy area that is boldness and courage because any deal is going to end in give-and-take. It cannot end in just take-and-take as I keep telling everyone.  So it is the give which creates scare in the leadership because if they give anything, there will be the agitation in their own backyard, in their own country, by some of the groups or some political parties or opposition parties that you have sold out and all that. Now that is where boldness is required, that in the larger interests of the countries you should reach peace, even if there is some political backlash. Now that is the difficult part because you cannot take everything.

Barkha Dutt: But you have to measure the changing attitudes from the Lahore Declaration to the point of your own four-point-formula. Did you sense concrete progress, because Agra, for example, collapsed over the issue of the wording of the draft, but later it seemed to us that both you and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were largely talking the same language of the four-point formula?

Pervez Musharraf: Now please don’t mix up. You said about the Lahore declaration, then Prime Minister Vajpayee came to Pakistan and in the joint statement the word Kashmir was not there…

Barkha Dutt: You say that Nawaz Sharif refused to put it in or accepted PM Vajpayee’s refusal to put it in?

Pervez Musharraf: He accepted to put in when I happened to be sitting when they were reading the draft, and I said the Kashmir word is not there – what is happening? So he said if there is the Kashmir word, the joint statement will not be there. I said so what is troubling us? Let it not be there. I mean Prime Minister Vajpayee has come here (Pakistan) and he ought to be more keen on a joint statement. If he goes empty handed, it is his insult also. So therefore don’t bother, and tell him that – Sorry we won’t have the joint statement if Kashmir is not there. He agreed, they put in a word, we worked out on two sentences, and unfortunately he had it removed after that, so actually he bluffed me.

Barkha Dutt: Nawaz Sharif bluffed you?

Pervez Musharraf: So if we think that was great move, that joint declaration – the Lahore declaration – there were sweet-nothings in that. Now you are talking of Vajpayee and myself in Agra. That was not an agreement. There was a joint declaration we were drafting of an intent, in the future direction that we need to take, the necessity of resolving all disputes and recognizing that Kashmir is the core issue which has to be resolved peacefully, if we want peace between India and Pakistan. Now that is the drafting which was going on. It had nothing to do with the agreement Siachen, Sir Creek or Kashmir. It was with Prime Mininster Manmohan Singh that we moved forward on agreement on what is the solution. So let us not mix up each of them. It was only with PM Manoham Singh that we were moving towards agreement, not with Vajpayee. That was just a declaration – we would have moved beyond that – having said that we would have then moved forward on each element. 

Barkha Dutt: Do you believe that if you would have perhaps stayed on as President, India and Pakistan had reached the closest they have ever come to resolving Kashmir?

Pervez Musharraf: Yes absolutely, you have to have a vision, you have to have an understanding in the disputes, you have to be keen for peace. And I think on all counts, I give myself full marks.

Barkha Dutt: What is your memory of what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh conveyed to give in those deliberations on Kashmir? What is the sense that you got from him in terms of his willingness to move forward on this?

Pervez Musharraf: (A) Very good sense of him. As I said I respect him a lot as an individual, I hold him in the highest esteem. He is an excellent individual and, in fact, out of that respect for him, when my mother, my brother and my son went to India – and I had not asked anyone, only on the diplomatic channels they were told – but he obviously found out an invited them for lunch. I am touched by his feelings and he arranged a meeting between my son and Rahul. They had tea together again I was touched by this feeling.

Barkha Dutt: Have you been in touch with him since being in exile in London?

Pervez Musharraf: No.

Barkha Dutt: One of the flashpoints in the region is Afghanistan, and you have spoken quite often about how the American decision to actually withdraw troops is the indication of their failure, and that now what they are doing in trying to open up talks with so-called moderate Taliban, that when you spoke about engaging the Pashtuns, everybody said that you are trying to have your cake and eat it too?

Pervez Musharraf: I started in 2002 saying that Taliban had been defeated with Northern Alliance (Uzbek-Tajiks-Hazaras) who are the minorities. All Taliban are Pashtuns, but all Pashtuns are not Taliban.

I coined this term in end-2002 or early-2003 may be, and that led to our own side following that strategy. When all Taliban were dispersed and Al Qaeda were gone, we would have easily taken the Pashtuns and put the legitimate Pashtun-dominated government in Afghanistan which we didn’t do. Unfortunately it is the biggest blunder we made, but on Pakistan’s side we started executing that and we started dealing with the Pashtuns which mean through a tribal Jirga. This is in their system in South Waziristan and North Waziristan. We started calling Jirgas and dealing with them. This was misconstrued everywhere, that I am dealing with Taliban and I used to tell them that I am dealing with Pashtuns.

Now if in that Jirga, there are double-crossers…doesn’t matter! There may be some positives, some negatives. At least we can win half of them. The other half we can carry on working with, and then we are using the forces also. We will take half on our side and use that half complimenting our force, and use that half for defeating the other half. So that was the strategy which was throughout misconstrued as me having a double deal, that I am actually running with the…

Barkha Dutt: Running with the hare and the hunting with the hound…

Pervez Musharraf: Yes, that is what I was doing… I have been attacked myself. How can I favourably disposed towards the Pakistanis who are attacking me, and who are carrying terrorists attacks in Pakistan? So it is just silly that I think that we were doing that. I always said differentiate between strategies and tactics. We have an end objective and a strategy, which is to defeat the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Our intentions should never be doubted and don’t teach me tactics – I will do in Pakistan as I please, because we understand our environment.

Now the Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Hizbul Mujahideen also comes in developing a nexus in Kashmir and your society, so therefore it is a complex situation. How to handle this complexity of dealing with the extremists in Pakistan’s society – they are spreading Talibanisation in the settled districts, the al-Qaeda which is trying to unify various factions of the Taliban? Taliban is not a monolithic group. It is divided into 10-12 (factions) they are not under Mullah Umar structure – they all are different, so therefore we should keep them like that and deal with them like that.

Barkha Dutt: Would you support engaging with the Haqqani group, with Hekmatyar, and so on?

Pervez Musharraf: I do not want to comment on that. I am not in charge. One needs to analyse all these things very carefully, but certainly it is to our advantage they are divided and not a monolith. Now this one way of dealing with them and do they represent the whole Pashtun population?

No, they don’t… Pashtuns have been in the tribal system. It is the tribal maalik who controls the system and where these mullahs were there, they used to confined in to their mosques. None of them had a position to hold in the tribal hierarchy for centuries.

Now since 1996, in about five years, that is when the Taliban came up because of the ravaging in Pakistan as the result of what Afghanistan was suffering, where they destroyed the whole country and that is how the Taliban emerged. And for six years, yes indeed they became militants. By the way, because we introduced religious militancy in to the area in Afghanistan when we fought the Soviets for ten years, we called it a jihad we brought in mujahiddeen, we trained Taliban. When I say ‘we’, it is the west, the United States and we were helping.

Barkha Dutt: The current stand-off between the West and Pakistan over the drone attacks in which three Pakistanis were killed. Now apologies have ensued. Do you think the West and Pakistan have a relationship that’s plummeting? And from your own years in power and you know now Woodward’s books talk about a very open threat by the Americans to pound Al Qaeda bases in Pakistan, did George Bush ever threaten you in that way?

Pervez Musharraf: Never, never! Never did he do that. And never would I accept any threat when it comes. Pakistan’s sovereignty is very, very important because it agitates the man in the street. So no leader can compromise on that and it is unfortunate that the violation of the borders of Pakistan is taking place with impunity, which is not being accepted by the people of Pakistan. And therefore you see these attacks on the NATO convoy, destruction of the convoys and now there is a problem in Pakistan for the leadership, for the Army. There is a big problem. While we want to defeat terrorism and extremism, we want to defeat Al Qaeda and Taliban, there is a very big problem of people of Pakistan hating the Americans and the coalition forces.

Barkha Dutt: And yet the country is so dependent on American military aid.

Pervez Musharraf: Well, yes and not that much. It is, but we are quite indigenous now. We are quite independent of maybe financial now, because the economy is not doing so well. So, I would not know now, but in my time our economy was booming. We were not dependent on the Western aid, not at all.

Barkha Dutt: Yet you promised Bush cooperation in his war against terror. Was that ever a strained relationship when you look back at it with the issues of you philosophically disagreed with his approach to the war on terror?

Pervez Musharraf: Disagreed on what?

Barkha Dutt: On their approaches. Drone attacks for example, always been such a contentious issue.

Pervez Musharraf: Yes, they have been and I’ve never allowed. I never wanted any drone attacks across the border. And I think if you see there were very, very few and I always used to object. Otherwise as a principle, as an objective of defeating the Al Qaeda and the Taliban, my views were the same as anyone’s views. And the whole Pakistan’s army views are the same on what they have done, on what they have been doing, obscurant views they have about Islam itself and their intentions of spreading it to the districts. Swat being an example, and they are going beyond Swat and the Shamal hills and trying to Karakoram Highway which is our link with the northern areas. So everyone in Pakistan and the military knows these people need to be defeated. They even burned our Malam Jabba, this ski resort given by the Austrians. They burnt 13 schools, girls schools specially. And they are that way. Every government, every agency, the whole army knew that these are people who cannot be accepted in the society.

Barkha Dutt: Your book spoke about, when it came out in 2006, about there being an estimated 300 Al Qaeda fighters in Pakistan. Where would you place that estimation today and where do you think Osama Bin Laden is today?

Pervez Musharraf: Have I mentioned 300? I don’t think so.

Barkha Dutt: I think if I remember correctly you said 300.

Pervez Musharraf: No, no.

Barkha Dutt: Okay, correct me if I’m wrong.

Pervez Musharraf: I think that time there may have been much more that 300, Al Qaeda certainly. Now they are in small numbers. Because we have acted against them in the cities and the mountains since 2000 what? I inducted two divisions there the first time back in 2002-2003. Three, I think 2003.

Barkha Dutt: Where would you place your estimation today?

Pervez Musharraf: It will be just a wild guess. I don’t want to do that. But I know that Al Qaeda is in smaller numbers, gradually there has been a shift. Al Qaeda initially was in the dominant position immediately after 9/11 but then with our actions against them very strong actions and the successes of the intelligence they started going down. Initially they were reinforced because the Chechens also came in Uzbeks also came in. The Chinese came in the ETIM. So from all over the world people came in. But with our strong action they started going down, but then the Taliban started rising because we pushed the Pashtuns towards the Taliban and that theory of mine, that strategy was not implemented. That we didn’t take the Pashtuns on our side, so therefore, they started going towards the Taliban, and the Taliban started rising and now the Al Qaeda is down and the Taliban very much up. This is the situation.

Barkha Dutt: Where do you think Osama Bin Laden is today?

Pervez Musharraf: He can be anywhere. I don’t know.

Barkha Dutt: In Pakistan?

Pervez Musharraf: Not necessarily. Not necessarily in Pakistan.

Barkha Dutt: I want to come back as we close to the issue of domestic politics. You’re in London, so is Nawaz Sharif. You set the cat among the pigeons by calling him brainless. Do you regret that remark?

Pervez Musharraf: No, not at all.

Barkha Dutt: You stand by it?

Pervez Musharraf: Yes, yes of course.

Barkha Dutt: Then his party called you insane. And this is slipping down to that level of political discourse that is you know…can be funny but can be avoidable.

Pervez Musharraf: The difference is while everyone believes in my remark that it is true. Nobody I think believes that I’m insane, with me going around in the world giving lectures. They must be insane also that they are listening to what I talk to them.  

Barkha Dutt: So you don’t regret that remark about him?

Pervez Musharraf: No, and that is the truth.

Barkha Dutt: You spoke in an interview about making good money on the circuit of giving speeches and not really needing to go back to Pakistan. So why this decision?

Pervez Musharraf: So they must be insane to pay me that money.

Barkha Dutt: Why the decision to leave this comfortable life and venture and plunge back into politics.

Pervez Musharraf: I think because I’ve been trained on a manner that there is something higher that the self. And I think that the nation and the state is always higher than the self. That is my training, and I think at this moment, and I sure it should be with anyone. At this moment the state is suffering. Pakistan is suffering. Not only suffering, it in danger I think. It’s in as bad a danger as it was in 1999 when we were being called a field state and a defaulted state and now it is the same situation. And when I look at the political arena in Pakistan, I don’t see anyone or any party to be able to correct the situation. In fact people who are there in the arena are all tested and failed elements. Nawaz Sharif is the other party. I call him a closet Taliban, I know his links with extremists and his appeasement of extremist. He will destroy Pakistan. He believes in Amir al-Mu’minin theories of grandeur for himself. So he is not at all the right choice. He’ll do more harm to Pakistan than anyone else. So therefore in this scenario, I thought can I do something. I’m one person who succeeded in doing something for Pakistan. I didn’t server for two years, two and a half years like these people and then getting shunted out because of misgovernance. I have governed Pakistan and I have governed it very well. See it from anyone socio-economic factor, anyone. Take even culture and heritage. And see what we have done. I don’t want to get into details. See the people. The end product of any governance is people – their education, their health, their poverty, their employment – each one of them. See the state, the development of the state; communication infrastructure, the industries, information technology, telecommunication, water management, agriculture. Name it and I can give you half an hour lecture on what we have done. I have not failed, I have achieved, succeeded and therefore I know what needs to be done and I know that Pakistan has the potential. The condition at the moment is not how it was in 1999. So I know it is doable, to reverse it and take it forward. And nobody is there. So therefore I owe it to my country to try to do something. Better to try and fail rather than not try at all.

Barkha Dutt: You know Indians have a very complicated relationship with you, because many people remember you for being the person who innovatively thought out of the box about Kashmir. Many people were relieved that there was a convergence between the army and the political space when you were there so one didn’t feel that here were multiple people to talk to. And many Indians still remember you for Kargil and I have to ask you that when you speak about mistakes and did speak about them. Would you acknowledge today that Kargil was a mistake, in the end a costly mistake for the Pakistani soldiers who went unsung in that conflict because the role of the Pakistani army was never really officially acknowledged.

Pervez Musharraf: No, I don’t regret anything. The issue is I am a soldier and my 40 years not only a soldier, I’ve been in the special services group for eight years, and my training is offensive and frankly, I fought the wars also, 1965, 1971.

Barkha Dutt: It was a needless mis-adventure.

Pervez Musharraf: It has a background, everything has a background. You can’t isolate it. The problem is when we take one incident, why did you do this, the answer is automatically from any patriotic Pakistani and any Pakistani soldier would be, then why did you do Siachen, why did you do East Pakistan, why did you do Chor Batla – that was another place ingressed by Indian soldiers. So don’t take isolated incidents. It is a series of events which led to Kargil, so one does not regret anything. These are confrontationist attitude between India and Pakistan. Which is continuing, and things are continuing now so things can happen in that, and now one has to see every action in the complexity of India-Pakistan relations.

Barkha Dutt: As you go forward in you political life, you are also on Facebook. You’ve embraced social media. We see you on all these online forums. How much time do you actually manage to spend on them?

Pervez Musharraf: Not that much, obviously there are people assisting me on my Facebook, yes. They are growing very fast that I’m myself surprised. It was initiated by my son, because I was not computer literate at all.

Barkha Dutt: Not at all?

Pervez Musharraf: No, not at all.

Barkha Dutt: And has that changed now?

Pervez Musharraf: Yes, yes it has. I have been reasonably fast at picking it up. So now I have a following of fans of three hundred and twenty thousand now. And I was declared by CNN as the connector of the day on the Facebook, because I just gave the interview to Becky Anderson, yes. It is very difficult to answer all of… (Interrupted by Barkha “the people yourself”) Yes, it can’t be. There are two or three people who are managing it. They ask me whenever there is an important doubtful answer required. Then I do give my input. Otherwise they know my thinking, they know my thoughts and that is how it goes on I think.

Barkha Dutt: And last question, you have faced assassination attempts in the past in your life as President. Do you ever fear for your life?

Pervez Musharraf: It’s very strange that I’ve become thick skinned. I don’t, honestly my wife feels, I don’t. And I’m prepared to take risks of any extent and after all these attacks on me, my faith in destiny has been reinforced and increased. If the time comes, well, it will come but otherwise again quoting Napoleon. Napoleon like generals have to be lucky in war and battles. I think I’m a very lucky man. I only hope that my luck carries on.

Barkha Dutt: We hope so too, and we looking forward to see you grab some more headlines as always, in Pakistan and internationally. It has been a pleasure talking to you sir. Pleasure.

Pervez Musharraf: Thank you, thank you.

Barkha Dutt: Thank you.

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