Former President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan has formed a political party to reclaim power because his country is in “dire straits” with a “dysfunctional” government, Musharraf tells Newsmax TV in an exclusive interview.
“At the moment, I am just organizing my party and organizing it in a way that we win,” says Musharraf, who has been living in London and Dubai since leaving office in 2008. “That is my key issue, and why am I doing it? I’m doing this because . . . Pakistan is in dire straits today, and nothing seems to be going right for Pakistan, and there is no political alternative in sight . . . ”
That is why Musharraf has formed the All Pakistan Muslim League, a third party that will challenge the two existing parties in the next elections. Unless there are midterm elections, the next vote will not be until 2013. For security reasons, Musharraf, a retired four-star general in the Pakistani army, is not saying when he plans to return to Pakistan.
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Musharraf says his party’s goal is to win a majority in the National Assembly, which selects the prime minister who is the chief executive officer. The president is elected by the electoral college, which consists of both houses of Parliament together with the provincial assemblies. Musharraf did not specify which post, if any, he would seek.
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“From the point of view of governance, there is no governance going on,” Musharraf says. “There is a dysfunctional government at the moment. All organs of state and even the pillars of state, the judicial legislative and the executive, are pulling in many ways in different directions.”
In addition, Pakistan is faced with religious extremism.
“There is an issue of the economy going downwards, spiraling downwards,” he says. “And then there is political turmoil also. So I thought from that point of view we need to first of all bring stability within Pakistan to be able to address economic issues and law and order in terrorism issues more effectively in Pakistan.”
Musharraf says the Obama administration’s effort to negotiate with the Taliban while announcing plans to withdraw from Afghanistan makes sense from some points of view.
“If you want legitimate governance [in] Afghanistan, you must have an ethnically balanced government in Kabul,” Musharraf says.
The Taliban are not a monolith.
“Everyone calls themselves Taliban,” he says. “So really, which Taliban are we dealing with? I’m not very clear, but the solution certainly lies in getting Pashtuns on board to be in the dominant position in Kabul.”
Musharraf discounts the possibility that extremists will win the elections and control Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. Based on the 2008 election, “I don’t think that is going to be possible because at this moment even the extremists . . . hold only about 3 percent of the vote,” Musharraf says. “I don’t think that it is going to be possible at all for religious political parties to win any elections in Pakistan and take over Pakistan politically.”
While the Pakistan government was guilty of negligence in not uncovering Osama bin Laden, it was not complicit in hiding him, Musharraf says. He says Abbottabad, where bin Laden was living, is not a military garrison. Rather, it is a “tourist resort with over 500,000 people, and it is visited by everyone.”
Nor did bin Laden live in a huge house with high walls that might create suspicion, as media reports suggested.
“Every house in Pakistan is walled, unlike the United States, and those walls are as high as these,” Musharraf says. “I don’t see anything unusual in the walls, and the house is maybe a little bigger than an average house in Abbottabad. So I don’t see anything unusual in that at all. So this has created this kind of a hype here in the United States. “
If the Pakistan government were involved, bin Laden would have had government guards, Musharraf says. He notes that he was president for two of the years bin Laden was in hiding in Pakistan, and he knew nothing about his whereabouts.
“How is it that such an important personality is left unguarded there?” he asks. “Nobody knows. So, therefore, I think, you know, this is a case of serious negligence and not a case of complicity.”
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. He is a New York Times best-selling author of books on the Secret Service, FBI, and CIA. His latest, "The Secrets of the FBI," has just been published. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via email. Go Here Now.
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