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

Pakistan trained militant underground groups to fight against India in Kashmir, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf admitted in an interview with SPIEGEL. In addition, the 67-year-old explains why he wants to leave his exile in London and return to his country.

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

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

SPIEGEL: Pakistanis have been left bewildered by the incompetence of the government led by President Asif Ali Zardari in dealing with the consequences of the disastrous floods. Do you expect another military coup soon?

Musharraf: Whenever the country is in turmoil, everybody looks to the army. But I would suggest that the times of military coups in Pakistan are over. The latest political developments have shown that the Supreme Court has set a bar on itself not to validate a military takeover.

SPIEGEL: How would you judge the performance of your successor, Zardari, and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani?

Musharraf: I do not want to comment on the present government, but everybody can see what they are doing. Pakistan is experiencing a deep economic decline -- in other areas, as well. Law and order are in jeopardy, extremism is on the rise and there is political turmoil. The non-performance of an elected government is the issue.

SPIEGEL: How do you view the role of General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the man considered to be pulling the strings in Pakistan?

Musharraf: I made him chief of the army, because I thought that he was the best man for the job.

SPIEGEL: When Pakistan's rulers lose power, they traditionally get imprisoned or murdered by their rivals. Why are you founding a party to, once again, get involved in politics instead of enjoying retirement in London, which is at least a safe place?

Musharraf: No risk, no gain. We unfortunately have a culture of vendetta and vindictiveness in Pakistan. But there is no case of corruption or fraud or anything against me at the moment. My political opponents, especially Nawaz Sharif, would love to create a case against me -- that I am corrupt or have committed fraud or some such. They do their best to achieve that, but they haven't succeeded. Even if they did, I would reply in court. Risks need to be taken.

SPIEGEL: Why do you believe that Pakistanis are keenly awaiting your political comeback?

Musharraf: I am not living a hermit's life, I meet people here and in Dubai and receive accurate feedback. I launched my Facebook page eight months ago and today I have more than 315,000 fans. And hundreds of Pakistanis called into a TV show in which I collected money for the flood victims. They donated $3.5 million. Do you think they are doing this because they hate me?

SPIEGEL: Is there anything that you regret -- for example, your secret Kargil Operation, which led to an armed conflict with India in 1999, your arbitrary changes to Pakistan's constitution, your dismissal of the country's highest judge, the lack of concern for Benazir Bhutto's life after her return or your oft-criticized mild treatment of religious militants?

Musharraf: The West blames Pakistan for everything. Nobody asks the Indian prime minister, Why did you arm your country with a nuclear weapon? Why are you killing innocent civilians in Kashmir? Nobody was bothered that Pakistan got split in 1971 because of India's military backing for Bangladesh (which declared independence from Pakistan that year). The United States and Germany gave statements, but they didn't mean anything. Everybody is interested in strategic deals with India, but Pakistan is always seen as the rogue.

SPIEGEL: Why did you form militant underground groups to fight India in Kashmir?

Musharraf: They were indeed formed. The government turned a blind eye because they wanted India to discuss Kashmir.

SPIEGEL: It was the Pakistani security forces that trained them.

Musharraf: The West was ignoring the resolution of the Kashmir issue, which is the core issue of Pakistan. We expected the West -- especially the United States and important countries like Germany -- to resolve the Kashmir issue. Has Germany done that?

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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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