Skip to comments.Musharraf's Secularism is a Joke
Posted on 09/12/2002 7:04:43 PM PDT by BlackIce
MEI: There has been considerable discussion regarding the possibility that the current war of terrorism will not be confined to targets within Afghanistan. Since Pakistan is a key partner of the United States in fighting terrorism, what are your views on the expansion of the war on terrorism globally to quite possibly include other Islamic states?
MUSHARRAF: We are against terrorism anywhere in the world. Still, we have not yet gone into detail in defining terrorism. We continue to say that terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, needs to be addressed. Now that we say that, we need to take a very detailed and analytical look at what terrorism really is. And Pakistan will be there; it has given its support to fight terrorism to the world.
Afghanistan is our neighbor, and we have close bonds with Afghanistan. Therefore, it was an automatic response that we would get involved in whatever is happening in Afghanistan. But anywhere else in the world, one has to take a very close look, and afterward take steps.
We have not, as yet, really decided on our next steps. Regardless, Pakistan will remain a partner in fighting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
MEI: You have received some criticism from certain quarters about the manner in which you assumed power in Pakistan. In your view, why has the electoral process in Pakistan not produced a sustainable democratic system?
MUSHARRAF: I did not take power; I was actually handed over power. As to why there is no political structure of democracy in place in Pakistan, I think this is because the leaders themselves corrupted the democratic political system. Instead of consolidating this system in Pakistan, they corrupted the political structure. It is the political leaders themselves who are to blame.
MEI: You have recently announced that national and provincial elections will take place in October 2002. And yet, you have stated your intention to remain in office another five years. To what extent will Pakistan's elected officials be able to influence foreign and domestic policy-making?
Musharraf (right) with Afghanistan's Interim Leader Hamid Karzai. "We must facilitate an arrangement in Afghanistan that is acceptable to both Iran and Pakistan." Photo: Courtesy of Capt. Muhammad Shujaat Azeem. MUSHARRAF: We are going to have elections in October. And there will be an elected government with a prime minister as chief executive. Now, when I say that, I will remain the president. This is following the parliamentary form of government that has always been in place in Pakistan - except, obviously, that my being the president has to be under some kind of a constitutional arrangement, and we are looking into this. As for the future functioning of the new government, the prime minister will be the chief executive and will run the government through a Cabinet. Obviously, we would like to ensure that this political reform and restructuring is sustainable and is not reversed. And we would also like to ensure that national interest is always kept supreme.
MEI: Some have noted your respect for Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk when you were a young boy growing up in Turkey. Are you interested in seeing Pakistan in the model of a secular Islamic state along the lines of Turkey?
MUSHARRAF: No, not at all. This is not a secular state. As I said, our forefathers, the founders of Pakistan, created Pakistan as an Islamic republic. So this is not a secular state, as opposed to Turkey. Certainly not. And I am not going to change that at all. When I praised Ataturk, it was for what he did for Turkey - he converted the "Sick Man of Europe" into modern Turkey. We cannot follow exactly what he did for Turkey here in Pakistan. Pakistan has its own environment. Therefore, we need to do something indigenous for Pakistan, and that is what we are doing. But I respect and admire Ataturk for what he did for Turkey.
MEI: You are on the verge of war with India over Kashmir. Could you shed some light on what the United States could do to help solve this problem between the two countries?
MUSHARRAF: Yes, there is tension and escalation now between India and Pakistan. And we have fought three wars over Afghanistan and a number of skirmishes over Kashmir. We need to resolve the Kashmir dispute. Otherwise this kind of confrontation will continue to happen in the future. I feel that the United States does have a role to play in mediating, or at least facilitating, a process of dialogue and then helping move things forward toward a resolution of the Kashmir dispute.
MEI: You have pledged to stop the infiltration of militants into Kashmir. But you have also said that you will offer political and moral support to Kashmiri groups. How do you reconcile these intentions?
Photo: Ron Sachs/CNP. MUSHARRAF: Very well. We have always lent political, diplomatic, and moral support to the indigenous freedom struggle that is going on in Indian-held Kashmir. I call what is happening in Kashmir "state terrorism." It is being carried out by the Indian government and forces. A U.N. Security Council resolution states that the solution to the Kashmir dispute should be in accordance with the wishes of the people of Kashmir who were guaranteed this in 1948. The people of Kashmir are asking for implementation of that U.N. resolution. Therefore, they cannot be called terrorists. But on the other side, the Indian forces are denying the implementation of the U.N. resolution. So, who is the terrorist?
We will always give moral, diplomatic, and political support to the people of Kashmir. Other than that, the movement there is totally indigenous. And we don't know how long it will carry on, because it is the people of Kashmir themselves who are involved.
MEI: Has the lifting of U.S. sanctions against Pakistan already begun to benefit the Pakistani people? What kind of assistance from the United States will have the greatest positive effect on Pakistan?
MUSHARRAF: We have highlighted our problems to the United States, and they are primarily economic. We sought the United States' support on the issue of debt relief, balance of payments, and market access. We got substantial debt relief through the Paris Club arrangement, in which an entire stock of debt was restructured for 30 years. We were also given considerable fiscal support, which was a big relief. We got $600 million, plus support in various other areas, which came to about $1 billion altogether. The European Union has given us total market access. But we are looking forward to some movement on this by the United States also.
MEI: What will you seek to convey to the U.S. administration and Congress in the coming months?
MUSHARRAF: First of all, I would like to convey that the association we have taken up with the United States should become a permanent one. The support that we have given in the fight against terrorism will be continued, and our association should be forward-looking. Pakistan's previous experiences with bilateral relationships, such as when the Soviets left, were not very good. This past impression needs to be corrected.
Pakistan has proudly and loudly claimed to be an Islamic nation since the days of General Zia. Musharraf has never, to my knowledge, said or done anything, to suggest a change in course. The title of your post is, therefore, misleading.
That's not the case. At best he's moving away from a radical islamic state.
I'll settle for useful dictator. For now.
I'm trying to decide if Musharraf's public statement about Pakistan remaining an Islamic State is PR for the Madrassas, or the simple truth.
Us and them, I'd say. Credit the guy for being smart, unlike Arafat. Musharraf has probably done more for Pakistan's military than any other dictator the Pakis have ever had.
Point blank, I think the guy's a con. A darn good one.