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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS

Interview With Pervez Musharraf

Aired May 17, 2009 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria.

If Pakistan and Afghanistan are the biggest global stories of the moment, the man who can shed the most light on them is surely Pervez Musharraf, who was Pakistan's president for almost a decade until just last year. He is my guest today for the hour.

But before we get started, I want to remind you about the history of this man. He came to power in a quick and bloodless coup in October 1999. He calls it a counter-coup; you'll learn why.

General Pervez Musharraf, then the chief of army, detained Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, suspended the constitution, disbanded parliament and went on state television to declare himself chief executive.

Then came 9/11, and Musharraf went from being a dubious dictator to a crucial strategic ally of the United States. He broke ties with the regime in Afghanistan, joined the Bush administration's war on terror, and announced initiatives to turn the tide of radical Islam in his country. He freed up the media and put in place a series of far- ranging economic reforms that ushered in strong growth.

Now, some Americans felt he didn't go far enough. But many Pakistanis felt he went too far. Public support, which was once strongly in his favor, started moving somewhat against him as the Pakistani people saw the war in Afghanistan as George W. Bush's war. Musharraf earned the name "Busharraf" in some quarters.

In 2007, he tried to cement his hold on power, including adding 29 amendments to the constitution, imposing emergency rule and suspending the nation's constitution. It didn't work.

In February 2008, Pakistan went to the polls, and the two parties that triumphed -- that of the assassinated leader, Benazir Bhutto, and of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif -- were allied in their opposition to Musharraf.

Months later, with discussion of impeachment in the air, he once again went on national television, this time to announce his resignation as president.

Tomorrow will mark nine months since that day. Pakistan has had a rocky ride since then. The current president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, has a 19 percent approval rating -- lower than Musharraf in his darkest days.

We'll talk about all this with President Pervez Musharraf, so stay with us.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

ZAKARIA: Joining me now is President Pervez Musharraf.

Welcome, sir.

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, FORMER PRESIDENT OF PAKISTAN: Thank you.

ZAKARIA: Well, a lot of people watch what's happening in Pakistan and ask, why is this happening in Pakistan? Why does Pakistan seem to be filled with these radical elements, extremist movements, Taliban, elements of al Qaeda? Ten years and $10 billion later, it appears they are stronger.

But why has it not been successful? Let's just take what the end result is. You have the Swat Valley overrun by Taliban.

MUSHARRAF: Why is it not succeeding? Because of Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan, more than 50 percent of Afghanistan is under Taliban control.

Why are U.S. forces and coalition forces not -- if you succeed in Afghanistan, all of this will be over.

ZAKARIA: Perhaps that's due...

MUSHARRAF: If you succeed in Pakistan...

ZAKARIA: ... to all these militant groups in Pakistan.

MUSHARRAF: Nothing will -- they get their -- they are there because they are supporting in Afghanistan, because they are getting all their military hardware through Afghanistan. Where are they getting their -- the money comes through the drugs in Afghanistan. Arms comes from Afghanistan.

So, Pakistan is a victim of what is happening in Afghanistan.

The world and the United States, and whatever discussion we have had, is through Pakistan, and everything is in Pakistan. A third, a half of Afghanistan is under control of Taliban, of Mullah Omar.

If you control here, if you are successful against Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan, let me assure you, the battle is not over, because Afghanistan is Afghanistan, and they will continue. If you succeed in Afghanistan, you will succeed in Pakistan.

We have suffered because of what is happening in Afghanistan. And we still continue to suffer because of that. Our society, I would say, our social fabric has been torn, and we are trying to repair it.

So, the world must understand, and the world must help Pakistan repair this torn fabric of ours, national fabric, instead of criticizing -- why is Pakistan like this, Pakistan is spreading Talibanization. At this moment, we are lucky -- the world is lucky -- that we have this army and the ISI.

Now, instead of weakening them, abusing them, criticizing them, we must strengthen them. Because, if they don't deliver, who else is going to deliver? It will all fail.

So, therefore, don't criticize the ISI and army. They are suffering with all this, and yet, going ahead.

ZAKARIA: So, let me ask you about the Pakistani Army and the ISI, because, as you know, there is a great deal of criticism. And the criticism basically takes the form that says, the Pakistani Army was, under your watch, given about $10 billion, that Pakistan in general was given $10 billion.

And the criticism goes, you took it, barely said "thank you." And what do we see 10 years later? More Talibanization, al Qaeda is stronger, Taliban is stronger. "Where did the money go," people ask.

MUSHARRAF: Five billion -- half of it -- is reimbursement for the services provided by Pakistan. It is not your money. It is our money.

So, let me say it again. Half of it, $5 billion, is our money. We provided services to you, so you are repaying us. So, $5 billion gone there.

Now we are left with $5 billion. Half of this $5 billion was meant for military, and the other half for social sector -- education, health and all that.

So, half of it, which was for military, was for -- I mean, it is pittance to maintain the helicopters, the air force, the ammunition that is being used to fight all these people. It is too less. And there was a time when, out of our 20 attack helicopters, only two were serviceable.

And I was -- I created a hue and cry. And then, only, could we get some support. So, that was for military support.

Now, people keep claiming that we are using all that on the eastern border against India. Now, that is a separate story altogether. Yes, indeed, our army has been maintained to have security against any threat.

ZAKARIA: But a lot of people feel that you are overly focused on the threat from India. And here you have people 60 miles from your border -- from your capital -- trying to take over Punjab, and you should be spending a much greater amount of time, money, energy, attention on that problem rather than the deterrence issue with India. MUSHARRAF: Well, we have to be balanced in our approach. On the eastern border, if Pakistan -- Pakistan's existence and security is under threat, when a big force like India is maintaining.

Let me now come into the military figures. They have about 33 infantry divisions. Twenty-four are on Pakistan borders. They have three armored divisions, all three against Pakistan borders. They have three mechanized divisions, all three against Pakistan borders.

Being a force commander, what would you do, when this huge force is there ready to attack you, and when they are saying that we are going to come and attack Pakistan, and when the public and the media is demanding that Pakistan should be punished and go and attack them?

ZAKARIA: This was after the Mumbai attacks, which were linked to Pakistan.

MUSHARRAF: After that also. After the attack on the parliament, also, we had this whole army, this whole force came on the borders. For 10 months they were there.

Obviously, I used -- I put my force there, and I threatened them, that if you try to attack us, and we are (ph) able (ph) to attack you. So, don't take Pakistan lightly.

So, Pakistan's security cannot be compromised. That is the first thing.

ZAKARIA: But your security is being compromised in the west...

MUSHARRAF: No...

ZAKARIA: ... by the Taliban.

MUSHARRAF: By they Taliban. Now, the question is, yes, indeed. One has to -- certainly, Pakistan's security is not being compromised by the Taliban. They are not of that strength.

This point that a lot of people say they are just 60 miles from the capital, the threat is not from these people. They dare not come onto the capital. They will be stopped by any force, any time.

But inside, extremism within, some elements who are right inside Islamabad, maybe in the form of -- in that Lal Masjid, in the Red Mosque, which we had to attack and eliminate in my time -- now, these are the people within our society. They are a small minority. But we must control them, because if we don't control this extremism inside our society, they develop linkages with the Taliban who are there, and al Qaeda.

So, al Qaeda, Taliban and these people develop linkages. We have to break that linkage through squeezing them.

It's all -- one has to have a proper strategy.

ZAKARIA: But it does sound to me like you're saying, look, the threat from the Taliban is not that great; we have to be more prepared against India. And that is what people fear, that the Pakistani military is not taking this as an existential threat.

MUSHARRAF: No. No, no. They are taking it.

I think -- please, I think, Fareed, we must not try to teach the Pakistan army where is the threat coming from. They analyze things. We have conferences. They take very, very deliberate decisions. They know where the threat is down and when it is up. And they take action accordingly.

When the Indian threat was there, when Indians, now, after the Mumbai attack, were talking of -- after the parliament attack, initially, they brought the whole army on our borders in 2002. Yes, indeed, we took the whole army against them.

So, yes, we are looking after Taliban, but we have to look after the eastern border, also. So, the thoughts are divided.

So, please don't tell us that you are entered (ph). There has to be a balance according to the threat analysis. And this threat analysis is done by the army very, very regularly.

You analyze your threat wherever it is coming from, whether it is Taliban or Indians, and take balanced action.

ZAKARIA: So, let me then tell you what Ahmed Rashid, the Pakistani journalist, says. He says that in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas the Pakistanis were reluctant to break cease-fires they had made with Baitullah Mehsud.

Some Pakistani officials still continue to give the Taliban a kind of legitimacy. The governor of the Northwestern Frontier Province claimed the Taliban movement was a national liberation movement.

In other words, there is -- this is a Pakistani journalist saying the Pakistani military still viewed many of these people as allies.

David Sanger, White House correspondent for the "New York Times," in his recent book quotes a CIA intercept of a conversation in which your successor, General Kayani, the head of the Pakistani Army, calls another key Taliban commander, Jalaluddin Haqqani, a strategic asset for the Pakistani military.

The fear is that the Pakistani military still views many of these Taliban militants as being useful in launching guerrilla operations, potentially in Kashmir, potentially against Afghanistan.

MUSHARRAF: No, this is absolutely baseless, and absolutely wrong.

I take serious exception to this, whoever has said that Kayani could have said that. I know Kayani since, I don't know how long. I can't imagine that he would have said this.

Intelligence is -- again, we are -- a lot of things happened. A lot of things happened.

ZAKARIA: You have contacts with the...

MUSHARRAF: Yes. Yes, indeed. After all, the KGB had contacts in CIA. CIA had contacts in KGB. That is how you have ingress into each other, and that is how you can manipulate things in your favor.

So, ISI also is an intelligence organization. They do exactly what CIA does or RAW does in India.

So, there was a way (ph) of dealing, but they were not supportive of them. Nobody is supportive of the Taliban. But, yes, there is complexity.

When drones come and attack, and the projection is that a lot of civilians are getting killed. So, therefore, within the army, like within the whole nation, there is a -- we are feeling against those attacks and in favor of those people who are being killed. So, there is a complexity involved.

There is an anti-United States feeling in the public, and also maybe in the army, yes, indeed, because of what has happened over '89 to 2001, in these 12 years when we were left alone, and the United States abandoned Pakistan's strategic relationship.

For 42 years, from '47 to '89, we were the strategic partner of the United States all over the world, in everything. We fought a war with them for 10 years.

What did we get in return? We were abandoned. So, what do the people of Pakistan think?

ZAKARIA: But I'm asking you about now. The question people have is -- let me put it more specifically, then.

The credence, the evidence for the fact that there is still reluctance is that the Pakistani military has not launched an attack of any serious kind against the Haqqani Taliban. It has not launched a serious attack on the Quetta Shura, the remnants of the Afghan Taliban that are in Quetta. It has not launched attacks on these people, perhaps because have (ph) used them.

This is the thinking.

MUSHARRAF: No, no. That's...

ZAKARIA: As useful. One day -- the theory goes, one day the Americans will leave. You, Pakistan, will be left with a strong India, and you want to have these militants...

MUSHARRAF: No, no...

ZAKARIA: ... to be able to operate guerrilla war.

MUSHARRAF: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE) absolutely. Let me assure you that against India we maintain a deterrence level of force, conventional. And India will never attack us, as long as we have this force. They cannot. They know what we have, conventional and unconventional.

So, leave India aside. We maintain our...

ZAKARIA: So, why not go after these militants?

MUSHARRAF: We are going after them, and we are doing our best. Now, that is what needs to be understood here.

And when you said we haven't operated against them, so, we have about 700 al Qaeda people who were arrested or eliminated after 9/11. Have all been done by Pakistan, Pakistan Army. Who else had done it? Who else had arrested all the senior al Qaeda leadership?

Name one arrested by you, the United States. All by Pakistan, in Pakistan.

(END VIDEO)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MUSHARRAF: I warned her, because I got intelligence reports.

Now, coming to a threat, yes, indeed, there was a threat. I knew it, and I told her. I told her personally.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO)

ZAKARIA: And we are back with Pervez Musharraf, the former president of Pakistan.

One of the things you have heard publicly in Pakistan, here in the United States, is that in some way you did not provide enough security for Benazir Bhutto, or were in some way implicated in her death.

As you know -- and I know Wolf asked you this -- there was an e- mail she sent indirectly to Wolf Blitzer, saying, "I hold President Musharraf responsible."

MUSHARRAF: Well, these are -- I don't have words. I don't -- I think I would undermine myself if I were even to reply to any accusation that I was involved.

I have certain principles. I've been raised in a certain manner. I belong to a certain cultural background and a family background which doesn't believe in these things, of assassinations and eliminations.

ZAKARIA: But you believe, actually, you warned her.

MUSHARRAF: Yes. I warned her, because I got intelligence reports.

Now, coming to a threat, yes, indeed, there was a threat. I knew it. And not only me. But some certain friends of ours from the Gulf sent a special messenger to me, indicating that there were certainly some groups, terrorist groups, who supposedly have come to Karachi, and they would do an attack on her.

And I told her. I told her personally.

ZAKARIA: How did she respond?

MUSHARRAF: Well, she responded all right. She used to be all right with me on telephone. But she didn't say whether she was going to -- what she was going to do.

But I told her, I'm warning you that there is a threat in Rawalpindi, where she decided to go and address a gathering in Liaqat Bagh.

This is a place -- anyone who knows Pindi, which is most -- the thickest part of the city, with tall buildings all around, congested, heavily congested, and a main square. And this ground is open to all the buildings all around.

I told her, "You must not go." And the first time, in fact, I stopped her.

ZAKARIA: So, you specifically warned her not to go there.

MUSHARRAF: Yes. She was not allowed to go the first time. And she created such a hue and cry that she is being restricted, of political activities being restricted. It had a lot of negative fallout on me.

The next time again she wanted to go, she -- and then she went. And that is what happened. And she went. There was certainly a threat against her.

ZAKARIA: Let me read you something her husband, the president of Pakistan, said, Asif Ali Zardari. He's asked on "Meet the Press," he says, "You know, Mr. President, there's a widespread belief that your military and your intelligence services still have sympathies for the Taliban."

This is President Zardari. "I wouldn't agree with you. I think General Musharraf may have had a mindset that to run with the hares and hunt with the hounds, but certainly not on our watch. We don't have that thought process at all."

MUSHARRAF: How could I be supporting them? From what point of view? So that they come and kill me?

I mean, it's a ridiculous accusation. It's a very ridiculous accusation.

ZAKARIA: But the president of your country is making it.

MUSHARRAF: Well, I have said my bit, so it's his word against mine. You take whoever you want to trust.

ZAKARIA: The current president of Pakistan has 19 percent approval rating. For much of your presidency, your approval was in the 60, 70 percent range, though it did go down later.

Do you believe that Asif Ali Zardari, the current president of Pakistan, has the legitimacy, the political support to pursue this struggle against the Taliban?

MUSHARRAF: Well, in this part of the world, you believe very strongly in democracy. Democratically, he was elected by two-thirds of the parliament. So, he has democratic legitimacy.

ZAKARIA: But he's not a political figure in Pakistan. His wife was. He is not -- does he have -- the polls suggest that he does not have that much mass support.

You said to me once when I was talking to you in a Newsweek interview, you were referring to Benazir Bhutto in those days. You said that the leader of a country like Pakistan that is fighting terrorism needs three qualities. You must have the military with you. You must be seen as a non-religious -- you must not be seen as a non- religious person. And you must not be seen as an extension of the United States.

And you said that for that reason, Benazir Bhutto would find it very difficult to succeed as the leader of Pakistan.

Now, President Zardari seems to have all three strikes against him. Can he succeed?

MUSHARRAF: Well, that makes his task difficult in the eyes of the people of Pakistan.

ZAKARIA: Do you think that there is something he could do? You know, what advice would you have for him -- other than resign?

(LAUGHTER)

MUSHARRAF: I would like to comment on this. I think he is trying his best in his own way. Maybe he has some compulsion (ph) and inhibitions.

I wish the government well, because they are facing a very, very strong challenge of rectifying the economy, first of all, fighting terrorism. And then, over and above, there are political challenges. That makes the situation in Pakistan complex.

ZAKARIA: Why did the situation deteriorate to the point it is now, you know, this mess? MUSHARRAF: Yes, I would say now, there were no clear-cut instructions to the army what does the government want them to do. And they were pulled in different directions. A provincial government telling the army, "Oh, you hold on. You stay away. We are dealing politically."

So, they re-exerted. So, unless you are continuously pressurizing them and reducing their space for action, they will keep trying to expand.

ZAKARIA: This sounds like a failure of the new democratic government in Pakistan.

MUSHARRAF: Well, you can take any way. Well, it should have been -- the situation should have been handled with more strength, strongly.

Never give up strength. Because we had achieved something. You just have to maintain pressure. That is all. Just maintain pressure.

ZAKARIA: You talked about the sociopolitical compact that kept Afghanistan together. Is Hamid Karzai the man to reestablish this sociopolitical compact? Do you feel that he is -- is he today an ineffective leader?

MUSHARRAF: Well, let me not comment on him. Yes, indeed, when I was -- I used to be annoyed with him was because he was double-dealing with us. And I don't like double-dealing at all.

In a situation like this, I feel that the basic requirement is a unity of thought and action, by all -- by the Afghan government; by the coalition forces; and within coalition forces, the American forces and the others; in Pakistan, by the central government, by the provincial government and the army.

There has to be unity of thought and action. Unfortunately, that unity of thought and action is not there.

ZAKARIA: Meaning he would say one thing but do something else?

MUSHARRAF: Yes. He would be hiding things from us. There are things which were hurting us. He would -- he knew, and he wouldn't help out in addressing issues which were causing trouble to Pakistan.

ZAKARIA: You saw the recent press conference where he, President Obama, President Zardari were all there. They talked about a breakthrough. It seemed like they were getting on much better.

Do you think that the personal chemistry is now better, and so everything's going to be all right?

MUSHARRAF: Maybe. No comments. Maybe, yes. I hope that it is all right. I hope it is all right. And I hope they mean -- I hope he means whatever he says, because I found that he doesn't mean what he says. ZAKARIA: Do you believe that the Pakistani military is a professional military, in control of the nuclear weapons, dedicated to fighting the Taliban? Or is there a need for some transition? Is there a need for a strategic mind shift?

MUSHARRAF: Five hundred percent, there is no need of any mind shift. These aspersions are caused by those who want to weaken Pakistan.

Pakistan's strength is its army. And anyone who wants to weaken Pakistan attacks the Pakistan army and the ISI. And unfortunately, I...

ZAKARIA: And you stand by both, the ISI and the army?

MUSHARRAF: Yes, yes. Yes, indeed.

So, I personally think that there is some vicious campaign going on against Pakistan. Because if anyone wants to weaken Pakistan, attack these two institutions, not realizing that if you want to weaken the fight against terrorism, weakening them also weakens that. So, we are not realizing that.

Pakistan Army is an inheritance from the colonial period of the British Army. It's an extremely disciplined army. It carries out orders from the top. And army leadership carries out government orders.

ZAKARIA: So, there are no...

MUSHARRAF: Nobody...

ZAKARIA: ... rogue elements within...

MUSHARRAF: There cannot be.

(END VIDEO)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MUSHARRAF: I make up my own mind, and I have my own convictions and my own principles. So, therefore, those who know me, know that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO)

ZAKARIA: You've spent a lot of time with President Bush. In fact, in Pakistan people would sometimes accuse you of being "Busharraf."

What was your sense of him as a president, as a man?

MUSHARRAF: Well, first of all, whoever accuses me of being "Busharraf," or something, I'm nobody's man. I am, by nature -- by nature, I am not a follower. I don't follow blindly.

And I make up my own mind, and I have my own convictions and my own principles. So, therefore, those who know me, know that. Those who don't know me can call me anything. I don't care about that.

Having said that, President Bush -- I'm going to be frank -- he's been defeated. Yes, indeed, he's been much maligned. Yes, indeed, President Obama has come.

But you have asked me, so I must speak my frank views.

I liked him very much. And I think he was a very sincere person. I think he was a -- what I liked in him was that he was a straight- talker. And he was a very good friend. And I like that.

I like these qualities of a person, an individual, where he talks straight, up front, and prepared to listen up front also, because I used to do straight-talking also. And he showed sincerity in his friendship with me on a personal level. So, therefore, I have a good opinion about him.

ZAKARIA: But there were policies of his you disagreed with, for example, the war in Iraq.

MUSHARRAF: Yes. I think the war in Iraq, other than disagreeing with the war on Iraq, I had disagreed on the way it was launched, actually. And I think maybe it was the military planners who should have done better.

Because I, as a military man, I always think, when you are going to operate against an enemy, whether it's a country or anything, you want to see where the center of gravity of that force against which you are going to operate. And you must make a plan to disturb that center of gravity, or to break that center of gravity.

In Iraq, the center of gravity was not the whole of Iraq and not the people of Iraq. It was one man: Saddam Hussein.

So, let's make a plan. If I was the military commander, I would have made a plan to get to Saddam in the cheapest, simplest way, and not undertake an invasion of the whole of Iraq, because I knew from my contacts in the Middle East that he was an unpopular man in Iraq. The people of Iraq did not like him.

So, therefore, if the military planning was rockets and missiles coming from the air, from the navy, from the land, and double pincers and triple pincers coming as if it is the Second World War going on, with tanks and maneuvers, which are going to last for months -- where is the center of gravity? The center of gravity is that one man, sitting in Baghdad inside (ph).

Why couldn't Baghdad be taken, block the routes of entry and exits, and some efficient, effective, small force goes in to locate where he is, take public support, locate him and get him? And that is the end of an operation. I don't know. I thought we -- that led the world -- when the Muslim world saw missiles landing in Baghdad, and all fire and all hell let loose on the television, I think it led to -- and the whole of the Muslim world was in uproar.

ZAKARIA: Do you think we should leave Iraq on about the timetable that President Obama has said and laid out?

MUSHARRAF: No. No, now that also -- I know the public sentiment in the United States. But I would like to warn the people of the United States and President Obama. It's not that easy. The situation is not that simple.

We must not take Iraq to be Iraq alone. We have to see the whole region. We have to see the effect of leaving, first of all within Iraq. There is a Shia community. There is a Sunni community. There is a Kurd community.

What are the sensitivities of Turkey against the Kurds? What is the linkage of the Shias with Iran? What is the linkage of these with Hezbollah in Lebanon? What effect will it create in Lebanon?

And then, what effect will it create in the Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia?

We need to analyze all this very deliberately and not take any action -- just for the sake of semantics, because people are demanding this -- that you destabilize the whole region.

Real leadership, it comes under test. That is my belief. When public opinion may not be correct, that is where leadership comes. You don't flow with public opinion then; you change public opinion. That is real leadership.

So, I will say, one needs to analyze. The United States understands, and President Obama understands compulsions (ph) here much more than me.

But there is a lot of deliberation required before we take action which has seeds of destabilizing this whole region.

ZAKARIA: What do you think of President Obama and what he has done in terms of the Muslim world, in terms of the Afghanistan strategic review? Do you feel like he's on the right track with both the political, cultural outreach and the military strategy?

MUSHARRAF: I don't see much change, frankly. I mean, I am trying to observe what is the change here. We always -- or always, I thought there should be more force in Afghanistan, because I think the force available there is diluted in space. That is a military term we use when the space is too large and the force is small.

So, and he has done that. He has done that physically. Maybe President Bush also thought that we should have more force there.

On the other side, I am glad. I think that he is looking at putting in more finances into the war in Afghanistan. That is the correct approach.

And the third area, that he believes in political dealings within Afghanistan, with the warring factions, with the other side. That is also a correct approach.

ZAKARIA: Talking to the Taliban is what you're saying.

MUSHARRAF: Yes, talking to the Taliban. And also, maybe overall, his concern on improving the United States' standing in the Muslim world, I think is also very positive.

ZAKARIA: But this...

MUSHARRAF: So, I believe...

ZAKARIA: ... is all sounding quite positive.

MUSHARRAF: Sorry?

ZAKARIA: It's all sounding positive. I mean, it seems like you're comfortable with where he's going.

MUSHARRAF: Yes. Yes, absolutely. I said that. Yes, I think he's on the right track.

ZAKARIA: And we will be back with President Musharraf to talk about more, including whether or not he foresees himself returning to the political fray in Pakistan.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAKARIA: There is a ban on your returning to political life in Pakistan, a two-year ban, which will expire in about a year.

MUSHARRAF: In November, six months.

ZAKARIA: Not that you're counting.

(LAUGHTER)

What will happen to Pervez Musharraf after that? Will you run for office in Pakistan?

MUSHARRAF: There is no running for office in six months. I mean -- well, frankly, I am on lecture circuits. I am enjoying this professor-like activity of giving lectures, which I could never imagine, as a military man, that I'll be doing that.

But one is concerned about Pakistan. Certainly, one does get concerned. Where are we headed? What are we doing?

I wish -- as I said, I wish the government well, that they must handle Pakistan and take it forward, bring peace and economic development. If that happens, one is -- I would be the happiest person continuing whatever I am doing.

ZAKARIA: But if Pakistan is still in trouble?

MUSHARRAF: If Pakistan is in trouble, and if any Pakistani, including myself, if he sees that we can do something for it, I don't think -- well, my life is for Pakistan.

ZAKARIA: And if the political party that supported you, the Muslim League Q, were to ask you to be its leader again, that's possible?

MUSHARRAF: They haven't asked me yet. Let them ask me first, then I'll reply.

ZAKARIA: Any regrets?

MUSHARRAF: Well, regrets, now, my regret is that on the first three years that I got, I should have gone to the supreme court and asked for another five years, because there were a lot of things that had to be done in Pakistan to bring this country on a path of continuous progress and balanced political and democratic activity, which I believed in.

I introduced the essence of democracy into Pakistan. What, after all, is democracy? It is the empowerment of the people. And I empowered the people, including (ph) the empowerment of women. Women were never empowered.

Today in our National Assembly, there are 72 women out of 243. Twenty-two percent are women. At the local government level, 30 percent are women.

So, who has done that? I did that. I brought about these changes and empowered the women.

We empowered the minorities. And then we liberated the media with freedom of speech and expression.

So, all this was done. That is democracy.

ZAKARIA: How do you wish to be remembered? How do you think people will remember your reign in Pakistan?

MUSHARRAF: Well, they should remember it as a period where Pakistan progressed. And they should remember it in accordance to a definition that I elect (ph) people (ph) for (ph) like this, yes.

I made a definition a long time, a long, long time back, of what will -- what is the responsibility of a leader or a government? I think the responsibility -- and this is my own definition, absolutely, not taken from any book.

And I think it's a simple definition: ensure the security, progress and development of the state, the welfare and wellbeing of its people.

On all three counts, the nation should understand, I provided all. I kept Pakistan secure from all threats. ZAKARIA: President Pervez Musharraf, thank you very much.

MUSHARRAF: Thank you, Fareed. It was my pleasure.

ZAKARIA: And we will be back.

(END VIDEO)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" feature. Here's what caught my attention this week.

Whatever happened to the global pandemic? Three weeks ago, the World Health Organization declared a health emergency, wanting countries to prepare for the worst. Senior officials prophesied that millions could be felled by the disease.

But as of last week, the numbers were lower than the rates of infection and death for a typical seasonal flue.

Why did the predictions turn out to be so wrong? Some people blame the media. But surely, it would have been difficult not to have reported that major international health organizations were predicting catastrophe.

I think there's a broader problem that affects the way we perceive all aspects of the world. We're able to describe a problem in great detail, extrapolating out all its worst consequences. But we can rarely anticipate or describe the human response when it confronts this challenge.

So, with the swine flu, it had crucial characteristics in the virus that led researchers to worry that it could spread far and fast. They described, and the media reported, what would happen if it were unchecked.

But it did not go unchecked. In fact, swine flu was met by an extremely vigorous response at its epicenter, Mexico. The Mexican government reacted quickly and massively, quarantining the infected population, closing down public institutions and events. In the process, it suffered huge financial losses.

The noted expert on the subject, Laurie Garrett, says we should all stand up and scream, "Gracias, Mexico."

So, from all of us at GPS, "Muchas gracias, Mexico."

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAKARIA: Now, for the "Question of the Week."

Last week I told you I'd be interviewing President Pervez Musharraf, and I asked you to send me the question you would most like to him.

Not surprisingly, there were a lot of good ones, many which I actually had on my list. It turns out we think alike.

But I'm not too proud to borrow from my highly intelligent viewers, so I did. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: There is a great deal of criticism. And the criticism basically takes the form that says, the Pakistani army was, under your watch, given about $10 billion, that Pakistan in general was given $10 billion. And the criticism goes, you took it, barely said "thank you." And what do we see 10 years later? More Talibanization, al Qaeda is stronger, Taliban is stronger.

"Where did the money go," people ask.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Many of you sent a version of that question. So, thanks.

For this week's question, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu meets with President Obama tomorrow, Palestinian President Abbas the following week.

So, do you think President Obama will be able to negotiate a peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians in this term? And if so, why or why not?

Let me know what you think.

In addition to the question of the week, I want to ask you to try the Fareed Challenge, the weekly world affairs quiz on our Web sit, cnn.com/gps. It's fun. See how you do.

As always, I'd like to recommend a book. It's called "War of Necessity, War of Choice," and it's by Richard Haass, a frequent guest on this program. It's a fascinating insider's look at the United States' two wars with Iraq, in 1991 and in 2003. He is one of a handful of people who were involved at a high level in both wars. And he says the decision-making process could not have been more different.

Also, please check out our Web site, cnn.com/gps, for highlights from the program, our weekly podcast and our current affairs quiz. You can e-mail me, as always, at gps@cnn.com.

Thanks to all for being part of this program this week. I'll see you all next week.

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