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Musharraf to West: 'We have our own brains'

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  • Pervez Musharraf blasts Western "intellectual arrogance"
  • Pakistani president rejects as "totally absurd" claims that elections won't be free
  • "We are not such clueless people who do not know how to run a country"
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DAVOS, Switzerland (CNN) -- Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf lashed out Thursday at what he called Western "intellectual arrogance" toward his country, angrily dismissing claims that rising unpopularity has undermined his authority.

Pervez Musharraf blasted what he called the West's "intellectual arrogance" in criticizing him.

He also dismissed allegations that he cannot be trusted to hold free and fair elections as "totally absurd."

Musharraf, who was forced to impose a state of emergency last year to quell violent protests but failed to prevent the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, sought to defend his embattled leadership and record in combating terrorism.

"The mandate has been given. Why doesn't the West, which is supposed to be civilized, understand things?" Musharraf told CNN in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

"Why doesn't it understand that we maybe are a developing country, we have our flaws, we believe in constitution, we know how to run government, we are not such clueless people who do not know how to run a country, we have our own brains." Video Watch Musharraf blast Western "intellectual arrogance" »

He added, "Unfortunately there is a degree of, may I say, intellectual arrogance that I see in the West which thinks that these developing countries are some kind of people who do not know how to govern, they do not know anything."

Musharraf has been accused by Western critics and his political opponents of rolling back democracy in Pakistan in an effort to maintain power.

Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 military coup and resisted pressure to quit his military role until late last year, said polls that predicted a major blow to his ruling Pakistan Muslim League Party on February 18 were baseless.

He also rejected claims by Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party that the elections will be rigged, an accusation leveled at the previous votes Musharraf used to prolong his period of rule.

His landslide win in October 2007 faced a constitutional challenge by a judiciary he subsequently dismissed as he imposed the emergency rule amid violent protests.

"This [election rigging allegation] is the culture that [Bhutto's supporters] have been following themselves always," he said.

"But this is the culture that I have changed. The bugs that were there in the system have been removed. By who? By me, by my government. We removed the bugs."

He rejected charges that he quelled democratic movements by dismissing the judiciary and cracking down on some media outlets, saying there were "four or five personalities who actually were inciting the people of Pakistan to agitation."

"We cannot have this," he said.

Musharraf said the brief closure of TV broadcasters during emergency rule, which was lifted December 13, was a necessary move.

"I closed them down for a few days because they were, No. 1, inciting agitation -- some of them; No. 2, they were not showing responsibility toward terrorism and extremism."

The president, whose security forces are often accused of colluding with militant elements in Pakistan, defended his record on tackling terrorism but insisted he was not working for the West, despite close alliance with Washington.


"The misperception is that I'm doing something for the United States or the West, we are fighting for Pakistan and the West must know that success or failure in Pakistan will have an impact on the streets of Europe.

"Do not create such misconception that we are backtracking, we are following a multi-pronged strategy: military, political, socio-economic. And we are doing very well." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Becky Anderson, Barry Neild and Wayne Drash contributed to this report

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