THE ATLANTIC COUNCIL OF THE UNITED STATES
REMARKS BY FORMER PRESIDENT OF PAKISTAN
PRESIDENT AND CEO,
THE ATLANTIC COUNCIL
DIRECTOR, SOUTH ASIA CENTER,
THE ATLANTIC COUNCIL
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2010
THE ATLANTIC COUNCIL, WASHINGTON, D.C.
Federal News Service
FREDERICK KEMPE: Thank you all and welcome to the Atlantic Council. I’m Fred Kempe, President and CEO. President Musharraf, it is a particular honor to see you again and in this setting. My last interview with you before I left the Wall Street Journal – where I was editor looking after Europe and the Middle East, and your region – to lead the Atlantic Council, was in January 2006 in Davos. I’ll give a couple of lines from this interview, just to illustrate how much can change and how little can change in a period of time. We talked about something that hadn’t made the news much until that time, and that was the notion of a gas pipeline that would run from Iran to Pakistan and potentially on to India, a trilateral track that could be game-changing. One of the things we’re working on at the Atlantic Council in the South Asia Center is, how does one drive this kind of regional cooperation? How does one wage peace in the region?
We talked about drones. There had just been an attack on a village where al-Qaida leaders were expected to have had dinner, that killed Pakistani women and children and set off street protests in Pakistan cities. You talked in the interview of how you hadn’t been informed in advance and that Pakistan had told the U.S., quote, “We don’t want anyone to operate in Pakistan,” unquote, even if that meant a slower response to intelligence.
Mr. President, we established the South Asia Center two years ago because we recognized the centrality not only of these sorts of questions but because of the centrality of the bilateral relationship with Pakistan in its regional context. You are an unusual man, talent, that understands both the region and Washington. And, interestingly, we have picked a leader for our center who is probably the most unique person, Shuja Nawaz, in understanding – he’s an insider in both societies and an outsider in both societies, which is really a frightening bit of schizophrenia to bring to the leadership of any organization. But he knows how Washington works, and he knows how Pakistan works. And it gives us a leadership that has a position where the South Asia Center is not an American center; it really is a global center talking about a region and bringing us real, real expertise that has put us at the center of this debate after just two years – less than two years in operation.
Only by understanding the relationship with Pakistan with this kind of sophistication can we move forward. There may be no more important bilateral relationship in 2011, for the U.S., than this one, President Obama’s trip to India notwithstanding.
So we want to talk about the global – the geographic subcontinent in the center – Gulf states, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Iran. We understand it’s all interlinked. And we think the solution to the problems we’re looking at will, in the end, only come from this.
John Kerry has called our work on U.S.-Pakistan relations “seminal.” Since the center’s launch, we have published an updated report. The first report we did was in 2009. We then did an updated report on the tenuous relationship. And we commit – we remain committed to our mission of waging peace.
Let me just quote the first sentence from that report. Quote: “Perhaps no bilateral relationship in the world matches that of the U.S and Pakistan when it comes to its combustible combination of strategic importance and perilous instability.” So that context is as important, as is our speaker today, a man who understands the context and the challenges as well as anyone on Earth.
Few people in the world have an understanding of the inner workings of Pakistan, its current place in the region and its future direction better than President Musharraf. He worked his way up through the military and political ranks to become general and army chief of staff in 1998. He took over president after a bloodless coup in 1999, and led his country until his resignation in 2009. His life story tracks the dramatic history of the country and the region. He is not only a person of history in the region, but as we’ll hear today, he’s very much a person also of the present.
President Musharraf, the floor is yours. And then Shuja Nawaz will moderate you after your opening comments. (Applause.)
PERVEZ MUSHARRAF: Mr. Frederick Kempe, president of the Atlantic Council, members of the council, it is indeed my unique privilege to be talking to all of you on a very important subject, the subject of our region, what is happening there. It is the happening place today. And the strategic focus of the whole world is to our region. Therefore, I would like to really say that we must understand the reason – region.
And there is no doubt that the world and indeed the United States coalition forces and Pakistan must cooperate fully to emerge successful in whatever they are battling. But within this, therefore, I am going to talk to you on regional developments, on the current situation there in the region, and also the ups and downs of Pakistan and United States relationships.
As you said, it’s a strategic relationship of great importance – but may I very frankly say that yes, indeed, in words. But in actions, one would expect much more to show or to demonstrate the strategic importance that Pakistan enjoys in that region, which I’m going to now enunciate through whatever I’m going to say.
I would like to take a historical perspective of this – whatever has been happening in – around in this region, and I will start (by ?), because from that I’m going to – sorry – (phone rings) – (laughter) – I think – yeah, (go shut it off ?) – (laughter) – I’ll take the historical perspective, dividing it into certain periods, and within that I will extract the relationship of Pakistan and the United States and why there have been ups and downs.
First period that I’m going to take is 1979 to ‘89. And may I say, right since 1948, Pakistan has been a strategic partner of the United States. And we have been with you all these years, for 42 years right up to 1989 very clearly.
From 1979 to ‘89, we launched – with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, we launched a jihad against the Soviet forces. We called it a jihad – when I say “we,” United States and Pakistan – we called it a jihad because we wanted to draw mujahadeen from the whole world, which we did. We drew about 25,000 to 30,000 mujahadeen from Morocco to Indonesia, from almost all Muslim countries. We also trained, armed Taliban from the frontier province of Pakistan and pumped them into Afghanistan.
So this continued – the strategic relationship with the United States, on its up, continued since ‘48, especially in these 10 years where we fought a war together in Afghanistan. We fought a jihad. For 10 long years, this jihad was waged. And in this jihad, the elites of Afghanistan abandoned Afghanistan for United States and the comforts of Europe. The jihad was spearheaded by religious militant groups.
And also, the negative aspect, which I must highlight, that what – the glue that held Afghanistan together, the ethnic groups together – which they call Misaq-e-Milli, which translates into “a national covenant” – this glue, after the king was deposed by the Soviets, was no more. Therefore, when we talk of political resolution, we are talking of a new national covenant, home-grown national covenant giving the Pashtuns of Afghanistan the dominant position in governance.
Well, these are the two points that I wanted to highlight. So this period of ‘79-’89 ended in the Soviet defeat in 1989. But what happened after 1989?
I’ll take the next period of ‘89 to 2001, 12 years. I call this the 12 years of disaster. Firstly, Pakistan and Afghanistan, this region was totally abandoned by the United States. Not only abandoned, there was a strategic shift in the United States towards Pakistan – against Pakistan towards India. There were the sanctions imposed on Pakistan through the Pressler amendment, and cozying up of relations with India starting 1989, in spite of the fact that we were the strategic ally for 42 years and we fought a war together for 10 years.
This led to a sense of betrayal within the people of Pakistan, which exists even now. So 1989, the abandonment of the region was one – the first great blunder committed by United States, not only vis-a-vis Pakistan, but also that the 25,000 mujahadeen who were holed up in Afghanistan coalesced into al-Qaida.
And then in 2005, Taliban emerged. All this happened because there was a total void and vacuum in Afghanistan, each ethnic group fighting the other, from ‘89 to ‘95 for six years, battling each other. Even the Pashtuns were divided into about eight different groups, and they ravaged and destroyed the country.
In ‘95, when Taliban emerged, the fighting then on went between two groups: the Taliban on one side, Northern Alliance, which was Uzbek, Tajic, Hazara minorities, on the other side. They then destroyed Afghanistan for another – up to 2001 – for another five, six years. So in these 12 years, Afghanistan became a ghost country.
I went to Kabul immediately after 9/11, soon after, when I visited Afghanistan. It – Kabul was worse than Somalia, if anyone has seen Somalia in the bad days. So this was Kabul, a ghost city. This is what happened in these 12 years. After having won a victory against Soviet Union, the fruits of that victory went to Europe, because the strategic focus then was Eurocentric because of Cold War, East-West, Warsaw Pact, NATO, Berlin Wall, reunification of Germany. All that happened. All the gains went to Europe.
What did Afghanistan get or Pakistan get? Nothing. For 12 years we were abandoned, and Pakistan got 4 million refugees in the process, into Pakistan. We had to fend for 4 million refugees, warfare, warlordism in Afghanistan, Pakistan alone, to protect its own interests in these 12 years. That (was the downs of/would redound of ?) Pakistan-United States relations, where Pakistan, the people of Pakistan, thought that United States has used Pakistan and abandoned us.
Then comes 9/11 and the terrible terrorist attack here in United States. Pakistan again becomes important. Pakistan is needed again. And therefore we again become strategic partners. But when we became strategic partners, the question that I was asked everywhere that I went in Pakistan: “What makes you think United States will not again use us and abandon us?” It’s important, ladies and gentlemen, today, when we are trying to take a decision whether to stay or quit: Are we again to be abandoned? Question mark in the minds of every Pakistani.
So now the next blunder that I would (sort of ?) talk of, which is very, very significant. After 9/11 – after 9/11, the Taliban were defeated with the help of Northern Alliance, which were the minorities: Uzbeks, Tajiks, Hazaras. Taliban dispersed, ran al-Qaida, totally decimated. They ran into the mountains and cities of Pakistan. There was no command structure. There was total disarray in Taliban, al-Qaida – nothing of the sort.
Afghanistan now was available for the political instrument to be used. The military instrument delivered in Afghanistan in 2000s – soon after 9/11. By giving – (inaudible) – Afghanistan, where force was dominant position – military dominant position in Afghanistan; and now political solution available to be executed in Afghanistan.
But unfortunately, that political solution didn’t come about. What is that political solution? You cannot govern Afghanistan with a minority of Panjshiris dominating the government. Panjshiris are only 8 percent. They are half of Tajiks. Afghanistan has always been governed by Pashtuns historically, they being 50, 55 percent of Afghanistan. Now here was a situation early in 2002 where we could have changed policy and strategy, taken Pashtuns on board and put a legitimate Pashtun-dominated government in Kabul. Unfortunately, we did not do that. The environment was available. We failed to do that.
And therefore, we continued governance with the Panjshiri minority, the biggest blunder with which we are persisting even now. Now we are trying to talk to moderate Taliban or Talibans. What we should have done in 2002 and ‘3 from a position of strength now we are trying to do from a position of weakness. That was the next blunder.
And now we are in the process of taking a decision whether to stay or quit. Well, ladies and gentlemen, this fourth decision has to be taken very carefully. We cannot commit a fourth blunder.
What I would like to say is, in Afghanistan, a lot of people ask whether we can win. I would like to – my reply is, we must not lose, even if we don’t – even if the answer to the winning may be 50-50. But we must not lose. And let me say with 100 percent conviction, if we stay there and show resolve, we will not lose. And we are not losing.
So therefore, my food for thought here is, ladies and gentlemen, that we must not lose first and then work out the winning strategy. And I have said that Pakistan is supposedly a strategic partner. Well, I don’t know. Pakistanis and people of Pakistan are not too sure whether we are the strategic partner in words and deeds and actions.
Pakistan has certain sensitivities, ladies and gentlemen. What are the sensitivities of Pakistan?
Firstly, our integrity, our well-being, of course, and the world showing concern and giving us importance which is due to us.
The other is the Kashmir dispute. The Kashmir dispute is important not only that it’s a dispute in the United Nations since ‘48, but today it is causing a lot of terrorism and extremism within our society. In 1989, when Kashmir erupted, freedom suddenly erupted in the Indian part of Kashmir, dozens of mujahadeen groups sprung up within Pakistan. And thousands of people were prepared, volunteering to join to go to India to held Kashmir – Indian-held Kashmir to fight against the Indian army. And all these much-maligned names of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Hizbul Mujahadeen, et cetera, et cetera – I don’t want you to remember names – are products of ‘90s.
Now, when there’s another intifada kind of a movement by people of India-held Kashmir, and that is suppressed by the Indian army with hundreds of people, dozens killed, these very mujahadeen groups again start rising and people give them a lot of support. This sensitivity and its impact to terrorism and extremism must be understood by the world. And therefore the significance of resolution of the Kashmir dispute – not because Pakistan wants it. It’s necessary for the region, for the world to fight terrorism and extremism.
The other sensitivities are nuclear capability. Ladies and gentlemen, Pakistan is much the rogue element, rogue nuclear state, rogue army, “Islamic bomb.” I don’t know why Indian is not a “Hindu bomb” or an Israeli bomb is not a “Jewish bomb.” Why is Pakistani bomb only an “Islamic bomb”? I don’t understand this logic. But anyway, Pakistan is nuclear for as a defensive existential threat exists on it. Our strategy was of military – defensive military deterrence right from 1948. And we quantified this into army, navy, air force on the conventional side. We held that always.
In 1974, India went nuclear, so therefore the defensive deterrence strategy became untenable. Therefore, Pakistan had to go nuclear. And when India started firing missiles in the early ‘90s, Pakistan had to make missiles to restore that balance and restore the strategy of defensive deterrence, which we did. So therefore while Pakistan’s nuclear or strategic capability is an existential compulsion, which is not the case with India. And I don’t understand the logic, and no Pakistani will ever understand the logic, of why Pakistan’s nuclear assets are disturbing the world. So this is our sensitivity.
Our nuclear, our strategic assets is the pride of every man walking the streets of Pakistan. So any indication of negativism coming from abroad, a threat coming on the strategic capability of Pakistan, is viewed extremely seriously by every individual Pakistani. So this is the compulsion.
Now, President Obama’s visit to India. I don’t want to talk much, (if you wish ?). And I don’t believe in Pakistan being Indo-centric.
And I do believe that relationships – in bilateral importance of relationships. United States president wants to go to India, absolutely he has all the rights to do everything. But if Pakistan is a strategic partner, Pakistan has strategic significance – Pakistan is suffering because of so many bomb blasts, hundreds, if not thousands, of people dead; Pakistan army has suffered 2,500 dead; Pakistan’s ISI has suffered about 300 dead; and then we’ve had this flood, massive flood, unprecedented, so many casualties – I thought President Obama should have shown some concern for this small strategic partner and visit to Pakistan.
No mention of Kashmir. I’ve explained the issue. It is sensitive, from fighting terrorism and extremism point of view. So while the concern of India may be that no third parties ought to be involved, yes, indeed, it should not be involved and we should resolve Kashmir dispute bilaterally, which we were doing in my time, and we were near a solution.
But certainly from the sole superpower, one expects concern for Pakistan, being a strategic ally of importance, and also sensitivity to terrorism and extremism, because Kashmir does contribute negatively towards terrorism and extremism.
While there is concern in United States or interest in United States because India wants to purchase $45 billion of arms purchases, yes, it is our commercial and economic interest, but I remember in my time, Pakistan, I was requesting European Union and United States for an FTA, free trade agreement, or a PTA, preferential trade agreement, on an additional market access, because I believed in trade, not aid, because trade means opening of factories, job creation, poverty alleviation, unemployment reduction. Unfortunately, it was not given.
Lastly, ladies and gentlemen, I talk of the political scene in Pakistan. Here in United States, as we’ve all said, you know, Pakistan’s strategic significance, therefore you ought to be concerned what is happening in Pakistan and what the future holds for Pakistan. We must ensure that Pakistan’s integrity, its solidarity, its stability is maintained, because we have to fight terrorism and extremism and defeat it.
And if we want to do that, we look at the political realities in Pakistan. Today Pakistan is on a downward turn: its economy, its governance, political turmoil and, of course, terrorism and extremism. In this situation, let’s look at the future. One has to look at the future; otherwise, we always tend to react, react when it is too late.
We need to see is there light in this darkness that Pakistan is facing today. And that light will come through the political alternatives. I do understand that democracy has to be maintained, but through democratic – through the process of elections, is light visible? We will have elections in 2013, hopefully, when the government completes its tenure, or some people are saying midterm elections or whatever.
But what will be the result of that elections? Will we have a government which will deliver to Pakistan and take Pakistan forward in its darkness toward light, fight terrorism, ensure the solidarity and integrity of Pakistan? I don’t see that light, unfortunately.
Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, I personally thought that I need to get involved. Maybe, maybe there is a chance that I produce an alternative which may be viable for Pakistan. And therefore I have joined politics. Where one has to analyze the future of Pakistan, we must ensure the stability and solidarity of Pakistan for the sake of controlling of turmoil in that region and containing further turmoil in the region.
This is all that I had to say, ladies and gentlemen. I know I had less time. I’m open to any questions that you may want to ask. (Applause.)
SHUJA NAWAZ: Thank you, Mr. President. As usual, that was a sweeping, strategic view, a vision that you’ve often reflected in your talks.
I’m going to pick up on some of the points that you raised, and particularly on the U.S.-Pakistan relationship. And reminded by a quote from Gen. Zial ul Haq to Ambassador Jamsheed Marker when he said that being friends with America is like living on the banks of a great river; every four years, it changes course and leaves you either flooded or high and dry. (Laughter.) And one could get that flavor from your commentary on the U.S.-Pakistan relationship.
But when you took the fateful step of joining what some call the coalition of the coerced, after 9/11, you agreed to provide access to the United States to Pakistani territory to launch the attack on Afghanistan. And there is enough evidence that some of the earlier drone attacks, which led to a lot of public outcry against Pakistan’s involvement in the war, were also launched from Pakistani airfields originally and then moved to Afghanistan.
There was no Tehreek-e-Taliban of Pakistan at that time, and it resulted largely because of the infusion of the Pakistan army into the border region.
So when looking back on this period, do you think there was too much haste in acceding to the U.S. request?
MR. MUSHARRAF: Well, this is the argument that many people have given, and I have faced this question many, many times. First of all, Pakistan’s decision to join the coalition and the United States. The first question that I asked myself before joining: What is in Pakistan’s interest? Does Pakistan want Talibanization, a Talibanized government in Pakistan? Do we believe in obscurantist views of Islam that Taliban hold? Do we want that in Pakistan? The answer was no, we don’t. And I know that 99 percent of Pakistanis will say no, we don’t want that.
With all that confidence, it was not in our interest to be supportive towards Taliban. So it was Pakistan’s interest, not U.S. interest.
Then I also went further. If we did not join, what could happen? And my answer, which I don’t want to elaborate, was certainly very dangerous for Pakistan because India was ever prepared to join, and certainly United States would have attacked Afghanistan. How do they attack Afghanistan from Iran – from India? Obviously, violating Pakistan’s sovereignty and airspace or whatever or land.
So therefore, from all points of view, bravado is good at a personal level. I’m prepared to show bravado. But where nation and states are involved, bravado is not the solution for a leader. And therefore, I take – took the decision. And whether that decision was correct or wrong, I think with hindsight, most of the Pakistanis believe that it was a correct decision now.
Now, regarding TTP, was it not there? Yes indeed TTP was not there. There were – there was TNSM, which was more serious, TNSM led by Sufi Muhammad, Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi. He was the main leader, and he is a man who’s stronger in this region, in the division – Malakand division, it is TNSM. TTP is a later induction, yes.
But then there was (no ?) Baitullah Mehsud. He – these are all products – because of what has been happening – these are products because we defeated, as I said. And after 9/11, Taliban and al-Qaida were defeated.
When did Taliban reemerge? 2003 or even 2004, I think, and 2003. We had a two-year period to execute a political solution in Afghanistan acceptable to the people, with Pashtun in the dominant position. I coined the term: “All Taliban are Pashtun, but all Pashtun are not Taliban.” I said this in 2002. So therefore let’s get – let us win away Pashtun from the Taliban and get them on our side, the Pashtun.
Now, that was not done, so therefore Taliban emerged. When Taliban emerged in 2004, things started now going towards Taliban. While we battled al-Qaida and decimated them, which is the position now, they are few in numbers. But Taliban have emerged. So these can’t be – you can’t put that on my – (chuckles) – that I did something which created TTP. (It has been all ?).
And then Kashmir? Yes, indeed. As I said, Kashmir, a freedom struggle erupted. The – this had all its dynamics. So religious militancy in Afghanistan, religious militancy in Kashmir. And after 9/11, yes, indeed, the – all these also turned their guns towards us, towards me. So therefore our national – (inaudible) – (caught on ?) actually. Religious extremism went on the rise. And because of that, TTP also came about et cetera, et cetera. Yes, I agree.
So I think we need to – we need to feel the history, but also feel future – the realities of today and battling it in future and winning. I think we should concentrate on that and not go wrong there.
MR. NAWAZ: Just to go back to the drones, you mentioned yourself that every single person in Pakistan –
MR. MUSHARRAF: Yes.
MR. NAWAZ: – on the street is opposed to the drones.
MR. MUSHARRAF: Yes.
MR. NAWAZ: If FATA is an integral part of Pakistan – and it is –
MR. MUSHARRAF: Yes.
MR. NAWAZ: – then why allow the drone attacks to cross your sovereign boundary.
MR. MUSHARRAF: Yes. Yes, you did ask (me that ?).
MR. NAWAZ: Yes.
MR. MUSHARRAF: Now, drones, this is a – this is a – this is a dilemma, here. Let me share with you: The dilemma is that these drones do certainly target militants. I know that. But at the same time, indiscriminate use of drones cause a lot of collateral damage. That is what is negative. And the other negative is violation of the sovereignty of Pakistan.
Now, you have said about my time – in my time, I never allowed anything to violate sovereignty of Pakistan. We needed drones for giving us information and intelligence about targets. Where is the target? That is the main thing. Where are the militants? And aerial surveillance is important to spot the militants.
But then, after spotting them, is the issue of what action to be taken now. There are many methods of dealing with a target. You can use the Air Force with precision-guided munitions, you can send your helicopter gunships, or you can use – we have created a force called SOTF, Special Operations Task Force of SSG, the Special Services Group, Helibond (ph) force. We can send the Helibond (ph) force, surround it and attack it. So there are various methods.
Now, I was for use of Pakistan armed forces – (inaudible) – a target was ?) indicated. So that was (end figures ?) itself. I think there were only a few drone attacks in those times. I always objected to them. Now there is just indiscriminate use of drones, and that is causing a negative, while they do attack militants, but the people of Pakistan do not accept violation of their sovereignty. So that is the dilemma.
I’ve always been saying, why not give drones to Pakistan, the Pakistan armed forces? Now that is where the United States laws come into play of transfer of high technology and all. Well, then you – well, this is – this is unusual circumstances, unusual measures required.
MR. NAWAZ: This is the element of mistrust that still prevails between the two strategic partners. But let me take you back across the border. You were saying something quite important about Afghanistan and the U.S. strategy there.
You said, “can we win,” and you said the response is, “We must not lose, and then come up with a strategy.” Now, it’s been almost 10 years since there has been kinetic operations in Afghanistan. What in your mind is that missing strategy?
MR. MUSHARRAF: Yes. I mean, that is the key question, yes.
First, I said the important part: Do not lose. And when we talk of quitting, it is – has terrible impact, negative on both sides, negative on partners more to, because every partner in the coalition, I think, including Pakistan, would like to evaluate the situation after you quit. And certainly I am reminded of 1989 – all ethnic groups fighting each other, millions of refugees in Pakistan, and we are, again, alone. So Pakistan will have to think – must think. Negative.
The enemy strategy is very, very clear. If I was a Taliban commander, God forbid, the easiest thing is to while away time. “One year, I mean, what is the problem? I mean, time is on my side. Let’s wait out until these people go.” What a negative thing.
So first of all let us show regard, ladies and gentlemen. We must know in tribal culture force chivalry is expected. And this little bit of veering and cowardice is never respected. So therefore please show resolve and stay there.
Now we have to certainly win. What is the winning strategy? And how can we do it? We have to first be in a military-dominant position. Speak from position of strength; never speak from position of weakness.
So how do you do that? Our forces today, U.S. forces, coalition forces – if you just take this – are diluted in space. Militarily, we called it “dilution of space.” Too much space, less force. So any thinking of going across the Pakistan border, by the way, is increasing space with the same force, more dilution of space. You will be defeated. You will suffer more casualties. Never make that mistake.
So therefore, now how do you do away with this dilution of space? Afghan National Army? Yes, indeed. Raise more. But do we know that the Afghan National Army today is all Tajik? What a blunder. Fifty percent, 55 percent is ethnic Pashtun. How can you do this? There has to be a great balance in the army. In the Afghan National Army, there have to be more Pashtuns.
Secondly, is there any other element? I think there is even now, although we are eight years late. We should have done it in 2002. If you see Pashtun culture, tribal culture, in this tribal culture, in the tribal tribes, two things that I want to highlight.
The clerics had no position in the – in the hierarchy. They were confined to their mosques. Who wielded authority? Tribal malik. Over the centuries, over the centuries, tribal malik. Where are they? They have been suppressed, but they are there. They are there.
Secondly, this tribal culture, everyone carries a weapon, and they have armories. Each side has its armory. Whenever there was a tribal feud, weapons used to be issued from this armory and withdrawn. So there’s a weapon culture, and pride in weapons and good weapons.
Now, let us locate tribes who have no ideological affinity with Taliban and tribal maliks who have some – I don’t want to use the four-letter words – who have something in there. (Scattered laughter.) And they then are raised, armed. Give them their pride. Let them come with you and fight the Taliban. By the way, a tribal – lashkar – they are called “lashkars.” Tribal lashkars have always fought with the Pakistan army against India in all wars. So therefore let’s create those lashkars. So this is to gain military dominance.
And then the political instrument. Military will never give you a solution. It can only create an environment for you. So political instrument. We have to get the Pashtuns on board. There is no moderate Taliban. I don’t agree with this term of “moderate Taliban.” There is Taliban. There is Pashtun. So we – but what – however, whatever the name, get the Pashtuns on board. We have to get them.
And, good thing in that, the Taliban is not a monolith, ladies and gentlemen. It’s not Mullah Omar over all the Taliban, you’ve got good command structure like the army. It’s not at all that. There are a number of Taliban groups operating. In fact, let me tell you that Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who is in Kunar, and Haqqani, their people have clashed with each other. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar people suffered about 150 dead killed by Haqqani group chaps. And he then ambushed them. So what I’m trying to say is that there is – it’s very good that there are a number of Taliban. So there is scope for managing political affairs, but from a position of strength.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you, Mr. President. One last question from me before I share you with the audience. And I know that they have many questions. This is picking up on your points regarding the 2013 elections in Pakistan. You said you decided to join politics. Some would say that you joined politics in 1999 when you took over the government.
However, what has changed in Pakistan from the time that you left Pakistan voluntarily that you think would allow you to go back? And then the obstacle which you obviously face apart from potential legal challenges is the question that – the indirect election of the presidency, with the provincial assembly members, the national assembly, the senate voting for the office of the president. Your party, the All Pakistan Muslim League, has only just been launched. Do you think there is any realistic chance that you will have enough support, particularly if the elections are called early?
MR. MUSHARRAF: Yes, well, a journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step. And it’s always the first step which overawes people, that it is too big. Well, if it’s too big, then you think of it as too big, don’t enter because you don’t have that leadership in you.
I presume it is not too big because, number one, I left not because I was – my popularity was rock-bottom. I was the most popular man in Pakistan until 2007. There’s no doubt in my mind. I know that. I had a standing in Pakistan in the masses, in the people of Pakistan. It is in 2007 that political turmoil took place because of certain legal actions that I took, for which there was a reason; I don’t want to get involved in that.
It is not that Pakistan was going down. It was not that the socioeconomic development of Pakistan was going down. It was not that Pakistan’s people, the condition of the people, the welfare, well-being of the people was going down. The poverty in Pakistan, according to the World Bank figures, 2008 figures, are from 34 percent, it reduced to 17 percent. Which government has done this? And the people of Pakistan know it. It went down – it was hard, poverty, in the seven years that I was there. Now, so this is one, that my popularity did go down. There is no doubt. But it didn’t touch rock-bottom, that I was – I was popular in a lot of segments in Pakistan. One is this.
The other point is what Pakistan is suffering today is the reason for, again, people thinking of me, that I could deliver from the darkness. I said that in this darkness, the people of Pakistan are not seeing any light. What is the choice if not people’s party? People’s party is performing today in government. And I don’t have to elaborate; everyone knows what is happening in Pakistan as far as governance is concerned.
The alternative is Nawaz Sharif, PMLN: tried twice and failed miserably. In ‘99, Pakistan was a failed and defaulted and bankrupt state. We had $300 million only in the foreign exchange reserves. And all our indicators – debt-to-GDP ratio was 103 percent – maybe a little better than the United States today. (Laughter.) But however, it was 103 percent. And it was in a – the (economy ?) was in a terrible state. People were poor, they were crying, they were yearning for some change.
I was a chief then. I know how many women and men came to me and told me, “When are you going to take over? What are you waiting for – when Pakistan is gone?” I’m talking about ‘99. If I gave the names of some of them, you even – this gathering will know them, who came to me and told me to take over before Pakistan is gone – in ‘99.
This condition now is almost the same. Despondency, hopelessness, people wanting to run away, inflation touching the sky, people committing suicide, people in the street. Now they are remembering what they’ve missed: the important, essential items in Pakistan. Sugar is one of the essential items. I was reading just two days back, in 2006 the sugar price went from 21 to 23 rupees per kilo. And I called the sugar mill growers to explain to me what is the cost of sugar cane they are getting and what is the profits they make, why is this to be increased. Today it is 115 rupees a kilo. This is what has happened in two years.
This is just one thing. I don’t have to quote all other figures and all other economic indicators. Therefore, the Pakistan – people of Pakistan are yearning for deliverance. And that is why the first step has a lot of relevance. And I think there’s a lot of – a chance of success. I cannot be sure. But I believe that it is better to try and fail than to go down not trying at all.
MR. NAWAZ: Thank you, Mr. President. I’m going to open it up. And I’m going to start in the front over here. If you could please wait for the microphone and identify yourself when you’re called upon. Ambassador – (inaudible) –
Q: Mr. President, good morning. Welcome back to Washington.
MR. MUSHARRAF: How are you, sir?
Q: Yes, very well, thank you. Very fond memories of the many different times –
MR. MUSHARRAF: Yes, indeed.
Q: – that we met and visited Pakistan, and also the first meeting you had with President Bush when I was ambassador to the United Nations at our official residence in New York after 9/11.
My question builds on what you were just talking about, Mr. President, which is the economic situation. I do remember that the economy was growing, I think, at its peak during your tenure, at something like 7 percent a year. You were –
MR. MUSHARRAF: Eight point 4 percent, sir, in 2006. (Laughter.)
Q: Okay. I stand corrected. And I recall that we were talking about different ways of economic cooperation, including trying to create reconstruction opportunity zones so that we could give preferential treatment to Pakistani products that would come into the United States. So could you perhaps just elaborate a little bit on what your economic platform would be to get Pakistan back on its feet economically again if you were – had the opportunity?
MR. MUSHARRAF: Yes, indeed. Yes – sir, thank you very much. I cherish the memory of my association with you, sir. Because you were very frank in our approach. I appreciated your frankness. And you also appreciated my frankness in exchange.
You’ve reminded me of the ROZs, sir. ROZ was reconstruction opportunity zones for the development of economic – socioeconomic development of the – of the tribal regions, tribal agencies. And we were also promised $(150 ?) million a year, if you remember. Nothing came about. That was the negative side.
So therefore, in the – in this tribal agency, what I want to say is, we have to be fast. We have to be trusting. We have to move fast in delivering and doing something for the people, for the tribal agency, for the frontier – for people of Pakistan, even; for Pakistan, even.
Now, economy. Today, the economy of Pakistan is nose-diving downward. I have been analyzing why. Why is it going down, sir? First (feel ?) was, immediately after 2008, when the elected government came into being, one thing that happened: massive flight of capital from Pakistan, going out; Pakistanis taking their – running away with their money. This led to the exchange rate – the dollar, which was held at 60 rupees for eight years between ‘60 and ‘61, shot up to 85. Today, it is 87 rupees. Sixty to 87 rupees, sir.
FDI has almost – has gone down considerably; I won’t say it has dried up. So these – the reduction in FDI. Exports have – half the factories have closed; so therefore, revenue collection has gone down. The impact is your fiscal deficit gone down – or increased – your balance-of-payment deficit increased, and your – again, your debt-to-GDP ratio on the rise. I don’t know the latest figure. So these are the negative trends.
Why? Because of lack of trust and confidence in the government. I personally think if the people – if there is trust and confidence in the government, merely – without doing anything – there will be a reverse flow of money. After all, Pakistanis want to invest in their own country. They can be motivated. They love their country. Why should they take their money out? They’ll bring the money back. And why would the Gulf, these Gulf sheikdoms and anyone else – why would FDI not come back to Pakistan? I mean, I believe diplomacy and trade relations – mostly, interstate relations have a lot to do with interpersonal relations. And I’m very sure that Gulf and everyone will be – could be persuaded to invest in Pakistan. So if we can reverse both these, the economy will start doing well. I have no doubt in that.
And our condition today is not what was there in 1999. The foreign exchange reserves are there. We left them, from $300 million, to $18-1/2 billion. This is what we left for Pakistan. Now it is less. It is, I think, $8 billion or something, but it is there; it is not $300 million. And also, our trade is there, our revenue collection is there. We raised the revenue collection from 308 billion rupees to 1 trillion (rupees). Now it will certainly go down, but not that much.
So all this is – the stock exchange; which we went up from – the 1,000 stock exchange indicate – index – had gone to 14-1/2 thousand. In 2007, it was 14-1/2 thousand. It has gone down, but it is at 8,000 or 9,000, I think. So the situation is not as bad. It is recoverable. But what is required is confidence of the people in the government, and the government to perform for the state and the people of Pakistan.
I have a simple definition as food for thought, it is my own definition of – for a leader or for any government: Ensure the security, progress and development of the state; welfare, well-being of its people. This is the definition I have. And if this is being ensured, and it can be ensured, all other things are secondary. And why I’ve – why I’ve said this – because I know I’m talking to a U.S. audience – democracy, ladies and gentlemen, is – democracy is a tool to deliver for the state progress of the state and welfare, well-being of its people. It is not an end in itself. It must deliver to the state and the people.
So if you have elected government, democratically elected government, but running the state and the people down to the ground, I don’t think that kind of democracy is a democracy that any state wants. So therefore, end product is the state, welfare of the state, well-being of the people, and that must be ensured. So we hope that democracy in Pakistan delivers to the people and the state.
MR. NAWAZ: Thank you. We have a question there. And as you can see, there’s a great demand for questions, Mr. President. We will try –
MR. MUSHARRAF: Yes, well, I am the culprit. Sorry, my apologies. I am giving long answers.
MR. NAWAZ: We will try and get to as many as we can.
Q: I’m Harlan Ullman. Mr. President, it’s always good seeing you again. Thank you for your comments.
MR. MUSHARRAF: Nice meeting you.
Q: I agree entirely with your analysis, but where I respectfully disagree is I don’t think we can wait till 2013.
I’m recently returned from another trip to Pakistan, where – I agree with you – the situation is far more dire than people in this country appreciate. It seems to me that the most recent strategic dialogue only procrastinated the inevitable, which is going to be some kind of a collision between the United States and Pakistan because of profound misunderstandings.
My question to you is, what, if anything, can the United States or Pakistan do in the short term to turn around what I believe is going to be this collision?
MR. MUSHARRAF: Well, thank you, sir.
I am surprised, as well as glad, to hear what you’ve said. Well, we – what the United States can do is to help Pakistan, and helping Pakistan is – I have been – very bluntly indicated whatever is happening is not really helping Pakistan. We have to help Pakistan economically, yes, indeed, but concerns of corruption certainly is there. There’s no doubt.
So you asked a difficult question, frankly. What the United States – I think if I was there, I would have asked for market access, give market access, so that I can create jobs, I can open factories, and I can do reducing unemployment, I can reduce poverty. Now that is certainly a thing that the United States can certainly do immediately. It can be done immediately.
Remaining, I think what Pakistan – on the law and order side, we are being harmed from many directions. We are fighting terrorism and extremism. I think United States need to develop a better understanding of the ISI and the army, instead of blaming the army and the ISI for collaborating with Taliban. I don’t understand why this is done. On one side, the army has suffered 2,500 dead at the hands of the same Taliban or TTP or TNSM or everyone.
So they are killing the army men for – and you are blaming the army. So I don’t – (honestly, there’s ?) a mismatch. They are killing the ISI personnel, about 300 dead, out of – I think about eight or 10 bomb attacks on ISI offices all over Pakistan. But yet you are saying we – they are collaborating with Taliban. So there’s a mismatch. Please understand, try to understand.
And I would say leave micromanagement to Pakistan. Be concerned with their intentions, that they do not want Taliban and al-Qaida, and be concerned with their strategic delivery. Don’t micromanage for them. They understand who to talk to, how to talk, which enemy to take on board and defeat the other, and then go for the other. Leave this micromanagement to the people of Pakistan.
So this is the second, I think – a better understanding.
I don’t think you can – we need internal stability in Pakistan, political stability. I don’t know whether the United States can contribute on bringing political stability into Pakistan, but that is the ultimate requirement because it is political stability which will then bring about economic stability, and fighting terrorism and extremism, and good governance. And that – I don’t know whether the United States can assist.
MR. NAWAZ: Thank you.
We have Sebastian Gorka at the back.
Q: Thank you, Mr. President, for your very candid presentation. Sebastian Gorka, National Defense University.
If I may draw you out on what seems to be a tension in your presentation, you spoke, with regards to the president’s visit to the region, of your resentment with regards to Indo-centric depictions of Pakistan, that you’re obsessed with India.
At the same time, earlier on, you spoke of the fact that the nuclear capacity of your nation is a compulsion, is an existential compulsion. Is that existential compulsion to do with India or something else? If not, then how do you reconcile these two comments, please?
MR. MUSHARRAF: It has to do with India, yes, certainly, because if you know, sir, I know of Indian forces – if I were to tell you very briefly, Indian forces today are based on 33 infantry divisions. Twenty-five of them are oriented towards Pakistan’s border. They have got about six armor and mechanized divisions, which are the offensive punch, all six organized against Pakistan’s border. Their forward air bases, with – which are the air bases that are used for an offensive, all oriented towards Pakistan’s border. Their navy, mainly oriented towards Pakistan’s shores. So what do you expect?
And when there are incidents like the attack on the Parliament, in my time, the whole army came on to the borders on Pakistan. And therefore, we had to move our army and it was a (world ?) situation developed. What do you expect Pakistan to do? It’s an existential threat, where a force which is three, four times bigger than Pakistan is oriented against Pakistan’s borders. And when incidents take place, then the politicians in India are crying for punishment on Pakistan, attacking Pakistan, et cetera, et cetera.
So what does Pakistan – what does the leadership in Pakistan do? It has an existential threat. Therefore I said our military strategy is of minimum defensive deterrence in the conventional and unconventional. Now, previously it was conventional only. With India going nuclear, it is also unconventional now.
MR. NAWAZ: Mr. Moody.
Q: Jim Moody. Mr. President, very nice to see you again. Thank you for your frank comments.
Stepping back from the immediate issues you’ve been discussing that are very important, for those like myself who have lived in Pakistan and love Pakistan, we’re very concerned about the educational system there. I’ve been to many schools where – I’ve been to many villages where it says on the education map there’s a school there, but you go there, there’s no school. They call them ghost schools. Thank goodness that you helped initiate NCHD – that was a good program – but international measures say that only 4 percent of – 40 percent of Pakistani children of school age are in school.
MR. MUSHARRAF: Yes.
Q: This is a huge burden for the future. Stepping away from the immediate issues, political and military, how do we get Pakistan to head towards those Millennium Goals that are so crucial for the long-term benefit of Pakistan?
MR. MUSHARRAF: Yes. I couldn’t agree with you more, sir. Indeed, the long-term strategy – human resource development, education, health, poverty alleviation, employment generation – education is the key. This is a knowledge-based economy of the world, and we are missing out.
But that is a long-term strategy. Now, how to do it? I do understand we have to do something. What did we do and what needs to be done is certainly more allocation of funds to – for education, but when we talk of more allocation of funds, I increased the budget to education from 2.9 percent to 4 percent. It was miserable. Four (percent) is also miserable. But sir, 1 percent increase is 170 billion rupees. This is the kind of money required, 1 percent increase, from a GDP of $170 billion.
Now our total PSDP of Pakistan, which was in – between ‘88 and ‘99 used to be about 90 billion rupees, total GD – PS – the Public Sector Development Project commitment. It was – in 2006, it went to 520 billion rupees. So 520 billion was the (kitty ?). Out of this 1 percent increase to education is 170 billion. So therefore, the difficulty and money requirement.
However, I totally agree with you that government has not been performing. You are hundred percent right of ghost schools. I would like to add, there are ghost teachers. Twenty percent teachers in Pakistan are ghost teachers. We carried out a survey in 1996 or ‘7, I think, under the orders of the government. I was then a lieutenant general and a corps commander. In my region we carried out a total survey by the army, by us. Twenty percent schools, 20 percent roughly teachers are ghost, only on paper, money going in pockets.
So therefore, we have to do something more than the government. And therefore we created this NCHD.
This gentlemen sitting right there, Nasim Ashraf. He came. He was a doctor here having a very good practice. He came and gave me this idea of education and health at the grassroot level. And in education, he came with the idea that we’ll have literacy centers (that are ?) literacy and feeder schools.
No brick and mortar, no spending or money. We will take schools from the villages, open school – these feeder schools, get teachers from that village – girls and boys. And I bought the idea. I told him to come to Pakistan, and he did that. And since 2001, (till the ?) – that NCHD spread to 110 districts of Pakistan. They opened thousands of feeder schools and thousands of adult literacy centers.
Then there are a lot of philanthropics in Pakistan, lot of philanthropic activity where they are involved in collecting money, donations and opening schools. And they are the best because they do it with a passion. And there are dozens of them. I personally think the government should reinforce the philanthropists because they do things with passion, and make them expand.
So I think it has to be a multi-pronged strategy to educate the people of Pakistan, which is so important not only from economic development, but also fighting off terrorism and extremism. It is the root of terrorism. So I wouldn’t agree with you more, sir.
MR. NAWAZ: Thank you, Mr. President.
Mr. (Kung, now ?) over there.
Q: When you were in power, you came across as a Pakistani leader who genuinely wanted a Kashmir solution, and you made many, many efforts to reopen the debate, to think outside the box. And it was reported that you were very close to doing an agreement with India.
Is it true? And if it is, can it be revived today?
MR. MUSHARRAF: You get me elected, then I’ll revive it. (Laughter.)
Q: So be it.
MR. MUSHARRAF: The issue, yes, I think you’re right. We were – I used to be called a man of war, which I was. I was in uniform. But I call myself a man for peace. And I said that with conviction because I said I have seen the ravages of war. I fought all the wars, and all the confrontations with India, or in the region elsewhere, internally against Baluch tribal uprisings, et cetera.
So I have seen ravages of war. My own best friend has been killed in war. My son is named after my best friend. So therefore nobody understands the ravages of war as much as I have – I do. So therefore I am a man for peace. A lot of people in India asked me how – “You are a military man. What are you doing?”
I said, “I understand the ravages of which none of you understands. So therefore I am for peace.” And with that idea, I initiated the process with (inaudible), and I initiated the process with Manmohan, I proudly say that initiated with Manmohan Singh – (inaudible) – yes, indeed. We were proceeding well.
There are three qualities required in a leader – I think I said this everywhere – for a deal, for some agreement on disputes to succeed. One is sincerity – sincerity to resolve the dispute, from the heart, from the heart and soul and mind.
The other is flexibility, flexibility to accept others’ point of view.
Third one is the problem area. And that is boldness and courage. Why it is required is whenever you reach a deal like on an issue like Kashmir, there will be a give and take. I mean, none of the two sides will be naive enough to give everything. So there has to be a give and take, and you will have to give – India has to give, and Pakistan will have to give also. That give part becomes problematic because there’ll be agitation in your own backyard.
And if there is a leader who buckles under pressure, then he’ll be thinking that my political clout will go down, my popularity will go down, and the people – well, then that interferes in the fast movement towards peace. So I think boldness is required. We were proceeding reasonably fast, in fact.
We had worked out the parameters, and we were drafting an agreement. So I think it’s a pity that we couldn’t reach conclusions. Fleeting moments come in the lives of leaders and countries, and the key to success is to grasp the fleeting moment and don’t let it fly past. Unfortunately, they flew past – (really flew past ?).
MR. NAWAZ: Thank you, Mr. President.
We’ve got about 15 minutes left, but we have a number of questions. I’m going to try and go through them quickly. We have Christina Lamb over there. The microphone’s coming to you, Christina.
MR. MUSHARRAF: (Inaudible.)
Q: Thank you. Good to see you again, Mr. President. I wanted to ask you – you talked about the blunders made in Afghanistan –
MR. MUSHARRAF: Sorry?
Q: You talked about the blunders made in Afghanistan by the U.S. I wanted to ask you why –
MR. MUSHARRAF: The blunders?
Q: Yes – why you allowed the Taliban leadership safe haven in Quetta and enabled them to recruit and train. Were you really in – fully in control of ISI? – there’s a lot of evidence that ISI had been helping the Taliban – or do you share their view that some of these people, including the Haqqani network, are actually strategic assets for Pakistan? Thank you.
MR. MUSHARRAF: I have to be very careful in answering to you, lest you write something which I – which disagrees with us – (laughter) – which you did before. (Laughter.) Yeah.
I’ve forgotten your question. (Laughter.)
MR. NAWAZ: It was the safe havens for the Taliban in Quetta and North Waziristan.
MR. MUSHARRAF: Yeah. Yes. Safe havens. Now, if you think that I provided safe havens to Taliban in Quetta – I mean, what answer can I give you? People who attack me, who are trying to kill me, I am providing safe havens to them?
I mean, it’s – I can’t answer anything other than this: Quetta, we talk of Quetta shura. I mean, a lot of people talk of Quetta shura. There is a (CIA ?) office and ISI office in Quetta. Have they identified where this Quetta shura office is? Quetta shura is a vague statement.
There is a – there are refugee camps around Quetta. The biggest camp is 100,000 – about 90,000, which you must be knowing. Have you gone inside this camp? I have flown in a helicopter around the camp, because I thought maybe, if one day we have to put in a military action there, let me see what kind of a place this is. There are lanes inside this where two men cannot cross each other, so close and so congested. Ninety thousand people living like this. It’s a nightmare if there is any military operation in this area.
Now, all these refugee – and there are dozens of such refugee camps in Pakistan – all these refugee camps are used for all purposes. Terrorists must be coming and staying there inside. There must be people who are harboring them. But to think that I as the president of Pakistan is allowing this to happen is not the case. It’s a porous border. We introduced checks at Chaman. Chaman is the main border, where thousands of vehicles come and go every day – including, the ISAF vehicles who go to Kandahar go through Chaman border from this – our side.
We introduced biometric system there, and passes system, so that we can control the movement across the border. On the Afghan side, they tore all our passes. And in spite of my best effort to introduce a similar biometric system on the other side, nobody has done that. So we have been trying our best to control movements. But on the other side, there is no response.
So therefore I would say that while these refugee camps may be a safe haven for any kind of activity, it is not government sponsored.
So that is what I would like to say. So there is no safe haven created or no – everything with the Taliban to come and stay there. After all, all the al-Qaida and Taliban leaders of significance, tell me one who has been caught in Afghanistan. All have been caught in Pakistan. And by whom? By Pakistan law enforcement agencies and intelligence, the ISI, in cooperation with CIA, yes, indeed.
So I think these are sensitivities which really are – disturbs everyone in Pakistan when we put all the blame on Pakistan. All blame for movement across the border in Afghanistan is on Pakistan. I don’t understand why, why is it not on the coalition forces and Afghan forces. If Afghan Taliban come into Pakistan, why is Pakistan only responsible? Why are the Afghan forces and coalition forces not responsible? Why do they allow them to come into Pakistan? So at least share the blame 50-50.
So I don’t understand this. This is what really develops the mistrust and lack of confidence in each other.
MR. NAWAZ: Thank you.
Q: President Musharraf, let me join others welcoming you here.
MR. MUSHARRAF: Thank you.
Q: It’s good to see you again.
MR. MUSHARRAF: Thank you. It was lovely meeting you, seeing you again.
Q: I’d like to ask you about Afghanistan, about the role of Pakistan and India in Afghanistan. Many people say that the two countries are engaged in a proxy war in Afghanistan. And since you were just talking about peace, is it possible for India and Pakistan to wage proxy peace in Afghanistan? Both countries have interests there. Pakistan has strong security interests. India also has interests. What would you do to move away from proxy war to proxy peace?
MR. MUSHARRAF: Thank you, sir. But who is initiating the proxy war, is the first question.
Now, what is happening in Afghanistan – I mean, I am from Pakistan, obviously, so please don’t think that I am saying all this just to protect Pakistan. But I know there are many Indians who may be sitting here, but unless we face facts and we fight this terrorism with unity of thought and action, we will fail.
Now, what is happening there, and what is happening to Pakistan? I would like to just enunciate. There’s an Indian consulate in Kandahar and Jalalabad, which you all know, everyone knows. Why is it there? Why are these two there on the Pakistan border? Is there an Indian community there? Is India doing some trade there?
What is the interest of India in these two continents? Nothing other than carrying out aiding, abetting terrorism in Pakistan, stabbing Pakistan in the back. I have documentary evidence of this.
I know Indian intelligence, RAW agents, coming into these consulates. I know the construction activity of roads that they are doing. And I’ve been telling President Karzai, don’t give construction activity to Indians on our border. They could go anywhere in the interior on the west or anywhere; why do they want to build roads? We will build the roads for you.
But no, they must build there, where their agents come, because they want to pump in terrorists into Pakistan. Our terrorist, Bramdagh Bugti, who is the grandson of Bugti, who was killed in Afghanistan – in Pakistan, and who is against the integrity of Pakistan – and he said this on television and in the media, that he doesn’t – they don’t believe in Pakistan – he is sitting in Kabul, sir. He goes to Delhi. He’s received by RAW agents. I have seen the photographs.
So let me say this to this august gathering. All training of Afghan diplomats, police, military, intelligence, takes place in India. I have been offering everything to Karzai. Nothing in Pakistan, all in India.
What is happening, sir? We are being stabbed in the back.
So what does Pakistan do? What should ISI do? ISI’s supposed to protect Pakistan’s interest, and that is what they do. So therefore the United States must understand what is happening. And let me say – I have said this very openly to everyone – help Pakistan in stopping all of this. There must not be a proxy war there, I totally agree. But please understand who’s doing it and why it is happening.
MR. NAWAZ (?): Thank you. Good question.
Q: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President. You made some remarks earlier on regarding the conduct – by the way, my name is Paul Aulibra (ph) from Shirat (ph) – some remarks about the conduct of military operations in Afghanistan, and you made some suggestions regarding empowering local tribes and leaders, et cetera. Now, that seems to run contrary to what is the at least the official strategy of ISAF and NATO and Gen. Petraeus of building up the Afghan army and the national police.
Now, do you see a possibility of your ideas or similar ones of empowering tribes and local leaders to take place? Is there anybody who can listen to this? Or are we doomed to fail because of this idea that we need to build national institutions and, first and foremost, the army and the police? Thank you.
MR. MUSHARRAF: Well, I – it’s not in conflict, whatever – if we are developing Afghan National Army and police, and we can raise them to a level where we can have – avoid dilution in space, as I said, that is a good course of action. But I had said an added possibility – if we cannot have that possibility of lashkars, then we must raise more Afghan National Army. Well, I’m not against it at all. Police and Afghan National Army is the answer. Ultimately, they are to take over. But my (grudge ?) against that is I hope ethnic balance is being maintained.
Now, if they are to be again Tajiks, I’m afraid you are pushing more Pashtuns to the Taliban. And the moment you leave, with this kind of a force, there will be war there, total war, with all Pashtuns fighting these people, ‘89, revival of ‘89. So therefore we must have ethnic balance, and we must have Pashtuns in governance in the dominant position, not in governance alone, not in having one or two ministers having been given useless portfolios, and saying that we have Pashtun ministers there.
Karzai himself is a Pashtun. But under his rules, the Afghan National Army is all Tajik. So how is this happening? And this is what alienates the Pashtuns. We must have the Pashtun on board. So therefore if the police and Afghan National Army is being raised in large numbers enough to police the border and the cities and towns of Afghanistan, that’s very good. I think that’s the right strategy.
MR. NAWAZ: Thank you. Mr. President, we are getting near the end of our time. So I’m going to request the last two questions. And this is in the order that I recognize. And so Pam Constable over here, and then Mr. Segalin (ph) at the back.
Q: Good morning. General, it’s very nice to see you again.
I’d ask – I’d like to ask you about a different militancy problem, not one coming from Afghanistan, but one coming from within the country, particularly Punjab, particularly LeT.
You mentioned the dilemma of drones. Pakistan also faces a dilemma of how to deal with groups that have been very helpful to it in the past with India, and I believe has even offered again to join with the army against India if necessary, but that are in fact causing havoc. I have heard from U.N. officials as recently as yesterday saying that LeT saw the Mumbai attack as a fantastic success because of the fact that it destroyed so many promising chances for peace between the two countries.
And given the fact that you’ve banned so many of these groups, and they came back and they came back, I’d also like to ask you one of many things I’d like to ask you about your own time in office; I will ask you only one. Given everything that has happened since July of 2007, did you make a mistake at Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa? Thank you.
MR. MUSHARRAF: Did you make a mistake after –
MR. NAWAZ: At Lal Masjid.
Q: Attacking Lal Masjid and the brothers.
MR. MUSHARRAF: LeT and – I have hinted at the history that in 1989, Kashmir’s freedom struggle started. And with Kashmir’s freedom struggle, the first group that erupted was Hizbul Mujahadeen in Indian-held Kashmir. Because of the suppression of the Indian army, they ran into Pakistan. So Hizbul Mujahadeen came about. And then Lashkar-e-Taiba erupted in early ‘90s. And later, toward the end, it was Jaish-e-Muhammad. Now – and many other names which I don’t even remember, frankly – dozens of mujahadeen groups came about in Pakistan.
There was such public sympathy, that no government really did anything about it. And also, may I say, since they were going to Kashmir and fighting the Indian army, it went along with the psyche of the people of Pakistan, with everyone. After all, Kashmir cause has to be solved, and India was refusing to even table it in any form. It was not allowing Pakistan any room towards resolution in the United Nations or anywhere. Therefore, it went along – this mujahadeen activity went along with the psyche, with the thinking of the entire population of Pakistan.
Then comes 9/11, and now we join the coalition, and there is Taliban and al-Qaida and everything. These very mujahadeen groups whose orientation was Kashmir, they turned their guns inwards and they developed nexus with Taliban and al-Qaida. Now, this is the bigger problem area, that they are involved in terrorism in Pakistan. Therefore we need to – I – as you said, I had banned almost all of them. You bring me back, I’ll ban them again maybe, but it’s easier said than done.
Allow Pakistan government and the intelligence organizations – allow them, with patience, some time. You can’t rock the boat so much that the boat capsizes. So therefore, while these things have to be done, allow piecemeal, gradual action through a well thought-out strategy which does not disturb the entire law-and-order situation in Pakistan.
So this is what I would like to say. Yes indeed, there is a requirement of reining in these groups. By the way, the Jamaat – this Lashkar-e-Taiba’s other wing, the Jamaat ud-Dawa, they did the best work in earthquake. They did an excellent job in the relief operations just now in flood. So you’re dealing with a situation which has popularity in the people. When they weren’t fighting Kashmir, it’s very popular with the people of Pakistan. They are mujahadeen, they are fighting Indian army. Why? Kashmiris are being killed, so therefore we must help and we must fight.
So it’s a difficult situation for any government in Pakistan. So the root is resolve the Kashmir dispute, frankly. That is the root, and that is my concern that President Obama goes and doesn’t even talk of – for heaven’s sake, if you are – in this unipolar world, you are a sole superpower, you have responsibilities towards everyone.
So therefore, I thought maybe at least he should have mentioned that you need to – (two of ?) you need to resolve this Kashmir dispute.
So this was – the other point, the Lal Masjid, certainly I didn’t do anything wrong. In the heart of Islamabad, people take over the Red Mosque, 2,500 people there, and mostly they are Jamia Hafsa, the women. About another 2,500 with weapons, with ammunition, with explosives, with suicide jackets inside the mosque in there.
We were being humiliated. The government was being insulted. Pakistan’s writ, the government – writ of the government was challenged by these. And only one kilometer from the diplomatic enclave, I remember the alarm that was caused in the diplomats. They’re sending their families out, and these people getting Chinese and beating them up inside that mosque, so we had to take action.
But before taking action, I did everything to bring them to – towards an understanding. And I used all religious lobbies – the Council of Islamic Ideology, the (Waqf of Modares ?). I called the Imam Kaaba from Saudi Arabia and every – everyone. When everything failed, but we succeeded in getting the thousands out and only 150 terrorists were left, there was an attack. And that is what we – Pakistan cannot be declared a “banana state” – “banana republic,” where it can’t act when the writ of the government is challenged – at least, not under me.
MR. NAWAZ: Mr. Sigaland (sp), at the back.
Q: I’d like to ask, if you become the next leader of Pakistan, will you stop all drone attacks and prevent drones from being used to actually fire missiles, only – will you just use – allow them to exist for gathering intelligence?
MR. MUSHARRAF: We’ll cross the bridge when I – when we reach there. (Laughter.) First, you get me there, then I’ll decide what to do about – (laughter).
These are – I said it’s – there’s a – there’s a dilemma. We have to resolve this dilemma. While we must target militants, we must not do something which disturbs public opinion massively in Pakistan. So we must get to some solutions. The dilemma has to be resolved. I don’t know how to resolve it but, yes, it has to be resolved.
MR. NAWAZ: Mr. President, on behalf of Fred Kempe and my colleagues at the Atlantic Council, I want to thank you for your very frank and candid interview. (Applause.)
MR. MUSHARRAF: Thank you.
MR. NAWAZ: Thank you.
MR. MUSHARRAF: Thank you. Thank you.