Benazir violated deal: Musharraf

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    Benazir violated deal: Musharraf

    WASHINGTON: Former president Pervez Musharraf has said he could take part in Pakistani politics from the platform of newly registered political party - the All Pakistan Muslim League - but a decision in this respect would be taken only if the people of Pakistan ask him to do this.

    Talking to the Voice of America (VoA) shortly before delivering a speech in Seattle on Sunday afternoon, the former dictator smilingly said: “I know a political party has been registered in Pakistan and Barrister Saif was its coordinator. However, I would decide to go back to Pakistan at an appropriate time and join politics if the people of Pakistan wanted me to do that.”

    When he was told that during 2007 when he was the president of the country certain records of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) regarding the Swiss cases againstMohtarma Benazir Bhutto and President Asif Ali Zardari was destroyed, he said in a very firm tone: “It is all nonsense. I never gave any orders to destroy any record. And frankly speaking I am not even aware of any such happening.”

    Later, responding to the questions after the speech in front of a gathering of about 300 people, arranged by an organisation - Friends of Pakistan First - the former president said that he had an understanding with Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto according to which cases against her were to be dropped and restriction on becoming the prime minister for the third term also had to be withdrawn. And, in return, she had agreed not to return to Pakistan before the elections, he said.

    “But she returned to Pakistan before elections and it was a violations of what we had agreed,” he said. When asked to comment on the possible role of PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif, Musharraf said: “A person who I call a closet Taliban. I feel he’ll be a bigger disaster. And also, he has a tendency of can’t function with anyone.”

    Musharraf said under the present circumstances Pakistan needed a leader who could pull together bureaucracy, political leadership and the military. Answering a question about corruption during his regime, he said that there was no corruption during the time he was the president and also no one in the cabinet was dishonest.

    Online adds: Speaking to the audience - largely Pakistani Americans - Musharraf said the Taliban’s brand of Islamic extremism poses a serious threat to the nation. “We need to ask ourselves, do we or don’t we want a Taliban/al-Qaeda culture in Pakistan ... because every action then flows from that decision.”

    Musharraf’s visit prompted more than 70 protesters to gather early on Sunday evening on a sidewalk outside the Westin Hotel in Bellevue where he spoke. One sign read “Dictator Not Welcome,” while others read, “Stand for Peace” and “Mister Commando is on the Run.” “My biggest concern is that he was a dictator and now he is getting this welcome in America,” said Agha Khan, a Microsoft software engineer at the protest.

    Musharraf also faces bitter opposition in Pakistan, where there are calls that he be put on trial for detention of the Supreme Court justices and other alleged violations of the Constitution. “Security would be a huge issue for Musharraf if he returns,” said Ryan Crocker, the former US ambassador to Pakistan, who is from Spokane. “So there would have to be some very solid understandings, backed up by the Army,” he added.

    Musharraf, in his remarks, boosted his governance in Pakistan. He called Pakistan a “failed state” that was defaulting on debts when he came to power in 1999, and said he was able to increase freedom of the press, improve rights of minorities and stabilise the economy.

    During his evening remarks, Musharraf said he lacked one thing - legitimacy domestically and internationally. He conceded he was labelled a dictator. Asad Faizi, 42, a Seattle Pakistani, who organised the protest of Musharraf’s speech, challenged Musharraf’s characterisation of Pakistan’s economic growth during his rule.

    Faizi said the economy was vibrant for two or three years because the United States funnelled $12 billion to Pakistan in exchange for Musharraf’s agreement to fight terrorism. But Musharraf didn’t invest in infrastructure or long-lasting changes to build a sustainable economy, said Faizi, who has lived in California and then Seattle for the past 25 years.
    “We must stop this confrontation between India and Pakistan,” Musharraf said, adding “We must go for peace for the sake of the world, because the world considers us to be a nuclear flashpoint.” The former president now lives in London but has been on a speaking tour through the United States this month.

    After the Sept 11 attacks, Musharraf said, he didn’t buckle right away to the US demands as Bush prepared to go to war in Afghanistan. Instead, he said, it took five or six days of negotiations and Pakistan did not give the US everything it wanted, such as access to Pakistan’s ports.

    Source: The new international
     
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