SPIEGEL Interview with Pervez Musharraf: 'Pakistan is Always Seen as the Rogue'

Part 2: 'I'm Earning Good Money Here in London, But Pakistan Is My Country'

Pervez Musharraf: "We poisoned Pakistani civil society for 10 years." Zoom
REUTERS

Pervez Musharraf: "We poisoned Pakistani civil society for 10 years."

SPIEGEL: Does that give Pakistan the right to train underground fighters?

Musharraf: Yes, it is the right of any country to promote its own interests when India is not prepared to discuss Kashmir at the United Nations and is not prepared to resolve the dispute in a peaceful manner.

SPIEGEL: And how can a nuclear arsenal be safe when high-ranking officers support proliferation or even personally profit from it, as has been alleged? The nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan claims that the Pakistani army monitored and organized deals with countries like North Korea and Iran.

Musharraf: That is wrong, absolutely wrong. Mr. Khan is a characterless man.

SPIEGEL: What did the United States offer you in exchange for getting control of the nuclear weapons in Pakistan?

Musharraf: I would be a traitor if I had ever given our nuclear weapons to the United States. This capability is our pride and it will never be compromised.

SPIEGEL: A German member of the militant Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, 36-year-old Ahmad Sidiqi, who has been held by US forces in Afghanistan since July, allegedly told his American interrogators that he was trained in Pakistan and confessed there were plans to attack Europe. Why, nine years after 9/11, does Pakistan remain a breeding ground for international terrorism?

Musharraf: We poisoned Pakistani civil society for 10 years when we fought the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. It was jihad and we brought in militants from all over the world, with the West and Pakistan together in the lead role. After the withdrawal of the Soviet troops, the West left Pakistan with 25,000 mujahedeen and al-Qaida fighters, without any plan for rehabilitation or resettlement. While you were mostly concerned with the reunification of Germany, we had to cope with this. Now you expect Pakistan to pull out a magic wand and make all of this suddenly disappear? That is not doable -- this will take time.

SPIEGEL: How can the problem be solved?

Musharraf: The West made three blunders so far: After the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, they abandoned the region in 1989. Then, after 9/11, they fought the Taliban instead of strengthening the Pashtuns who could have taken on the radical Taliban. Now you try to negotiate with so-called "moderate Taliban," but there is no such thing as a moderate Taliban. There are Taliban and Pashtuns. But as I have always said: All Taliban are Pashtun, but not all Pashtun people are Taliban. Again, you should reinforce the ancient Pashtun clans who are not ideologically aligned with the Taliban to govern Afghanistan and to fight the Taliban. That's my strong advice. The fourth and worst blunder would be to quit without winning. Then militancy will prevail not only in Pakistan, India and Kashmir, but perhaps also in Europe, the United Kingdom and in the United States. That's my belief.

SPIEGEL: The al-Qaida chief in Pakistan, Sheikh Fateh al Masri, was recently killed in a US drone attack in North Waziristan. Many al-Qaida leaders are sheltered by the Haqqani network (of warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani). How serious is Pakistan about fighting a former mujahedeen heroes like Haqqani and his son Siraj?

Musharraf: If you hear the new statements from the West that they plan to withdraw their troops and leave Afghanistan in 2011, then Pakistan should think of how to handle the withdrawal scenario. Pakistan needs to find a strategy for its existence, how to tackle the situation with Seraj Haqqani, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the Pakistani Taliban and Mullah Omar. When the West quits, we will be on our own with them.

SPIEGEL: Do you not fear that when you return to Pakistan, you might face the same fate as Benazir Bhutto, who was murdered in a suicide attack?

Musharraf: Yes, that is a risk, but it won't stop me. I am happy here in London. I am earning good money, but Pakistan is my country.

Interview conducted by Susanne Koelbl

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About Pervez Musharraf
Pervez Musharraf, 67, stepped down as president of Pakistan in 2008 following months of protests. He had taken power after a military putsch in 1999. Since his resignation, Musharraf has spent most of his time in London. In the event of his return to Pakistan, Musharraf is threatened with numerous court cases connected to the massive manipulations he resorted to in order to stay in power for so long.


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