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CONNECT THE WORLD

Interview with Pervez Musharraf

Aired May 20, 2010 - 16:34:00   ET

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


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome to the show. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson.

Last time we spoke, you told me that you liked being an army man but that you weren't very good, nor did you like diplomacy nor politics. So why are you returning to Pakistani politics as a civilian?

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, FORMER PAKISTANI PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much, Becky.

Yes, indeed, I prefer being an army man. But, seeing, as I said in my closing speech, Pakistan comes first. So I think the security of Pakistan, the progress and development of the state, the welfare, well- being of its people - I worry for Pakistan, therefore I've decided to return to Pakistan through - through politics by election process.

ANDERSON: Mr. Musharraf, you said - you said to me before -

MUSHARRAF: By the way, I have -

ANDERSON: -- hang on a minute - that the people of Pakistan want you back.

I just want to take you (ph) back to 2008, in the months leading up to your resignation. Have a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SHOUTING IN PAKISTANI).

(PEOPLE CHANTING IN PAKISTANI)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Mr. Musharraf, do you think these protests, is that indeed the lawyers (ph) want you back?

MUSHARRAF: Well, they - these were one or two years back. The situation has changed considerably, number one. And then, secondly, this education by the lawyers, sponsored (ph) by the lawyers was politicized by the political operates. I know that even then there were a lot of supporters.

However, the situation, as I said, has changed drastically in Pakistan. So I'm - I'm confident that I'm taking a calculated decision for the - for my political future.

ANDERSON: There are a wrath (ph) of Supreme Court cases you for civil and criminal offenses. Do you expect to appear in court when you get back home?

MUSHARRAF: Well, I hold the judiciary in very high esteem and I know there is a lot of politization going on of cases, where so many references, the many references filed have a political overtones.

However, when I go back, we will cross the bridge, as I said - as I keep saying, when we reach it.

ANDERSON: Mr. Musharraf, I want to take you back to the moment you resigned as president. Just have a - have a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MUSHARRAF (through translator): I am a human being. I am a mortal so there may be some shortcomings. But, I believe - I hope that the nation of Pakistan will forget - will try to forget those shortcomings.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Shortcomings or mistakes - what were you referring to, sir?

MUSHARRAF: Well, whatever the happening. I wouldn't like to go into the detail, but the happenings beyond 2007, I would say, where education came on to the streets in 2007 and 2008, and I have to see these in retrospect.

ANDERSON: What are your thoughts on regional instability?

Let me read you a quote from a "Newsweek" article, sir, written by Fareed Zakaria, in which he calls Pakistan a terrorist hotspot. He goes on to say, and I'm sort of bringing this up for our viewers, quote, "Although last year the Pakistani military took the fight to South Waziristan, a haven for groups that have launched attacks inside Pakistan, the generals have refused to go into the North."

What would you do so far as trying clamp down on the instability on the border there, if you have the chance at this point?

MUSHARRAF: Well, I think the army, whatever the army is doing and whatever the present government is - the policy adopted and given to the army is I think suitable, except that we need to raise more front to accord (ph) the second-line forces, which are more acceptable to the people in - operating in the travel (ph) agencies.

Other than that, I do not agree at all with one statement that Pakistan is a terrorist haven. Yes, the travel (ph) agency of Pakistan, unfortunately, is, and all that is happening in the travel (ph) agency are in Pakistan is because of whatever has been happening in Afghanistan and whatever has been happening in the region since 1979 where a militant religious campaign, religious militancy was introduced in the area, and it has continued. Its impact is continuing in the - in the region.

ANDERSON: I'm listening to what you're saying, and I'm thinking about the fact that you ran the country, Sir, for most of the last decade. What is it that you think you're bringing back to Pakistan now that you weren't able to achieve when you were running the country then?

MUSHARRAF: Well, we have to introduce a new political culture. The overall situation, the overall - what we have to achieve is almost similar.

We have to put the economy of Pakistan first, toward (ph) an upsurge. We have to dominate or curb terrorism and extremism in all its nuances. And then, we have to bring some political normalcy into Pakistan, a real democratic structure introduced into Pakistan, and that, may I say that we need to have a party which is democratic in principle and in outlook.

That is the new thing that I thought needs to be introduced to Pakistan.

ANDERSON: I (INAUDIBLE) remind of the words of Benazir Bhutto. Now, you have said that you may sue members of the U.N. commission that probed the assassination of the - the ex-Premier Benazir Bhutto for holding you responsible for her killing.

Now, to clarify, it didn't actually accuse you personally, but do you still intend to take action against those members of the U.N.?

MUSHARRAF: No, no. I'm not taking any action, and they haven't accused me of, as you said, killing of Benazir. Not at all. They have cast aspersions on the shortcomings of the government in providing security, but that doesn't mean that that - that is what - that we were involved in the killing.

But, however, I don't also agree to that. I think all the security was provided, and that is how he - she remained safe during her approach to the stage, into the rostrum, her addressing to the people for one hour, leaving the place safely, getting into a bomb-proof and bullet-proof car safely. Unfortunately, there was also a superimposition of political security over the security provided by the government, and - which was rather - it created some confusion. All that problem.

But, however, I think we should stop politicizing this issue, the assassination of Benazir, which was most unfortunate. It was most unfortunate for Pakistan and the world, the assassination of Benazir. But I think they can political leverage from it, politicizing it, and having a campaign initiated against people and also even, I guess, me is most unfair and -

ANDERSON: OK.

MUSHARRAF: -- I don't accept such accusations.

ANDERSON: I hear what you're saying.

Let me get back - get you back to a story that we've been covering today, Pakistan today banning Facebook and even YouTube on a controversy related to the drawing of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.

Now, you have some 200,000 followers on Facebook. Indeed, you've admitted to me over the past couple of weeks that you've been leveraging those followers to affect your return to politics in Pakistan. So if you were running the country at this point, would you have taken the site down over this controversy?

MUSHARRAF: Well, I certainly am in favor - I have been in favor of the Facebook. And, as you said, that I have utilized the Facebook to my advantage, and I know that there are about 210,000 fans of mine today in the Facebook.

But, however, while I believe in this, while I believe in the freedom of speech, liberty of the media, but that does not certainly, should not extend to hurting of sentiments, and in Pakistan particularly and in the Islamic world generally, talking of casting aspersions, talking of the Prophet - we are not even supposed to have a photograph of the Prophet, leave aside drawing of cartoons.

I think the world must accept the realities, the sensitivities of Muslims. So it's a very, very sensitive issue, and any such action that have been taken on the Facebook today brings out people on to the streets.

So therefore, any government is forced to certainly pacify the public in some manner or the other. And therefore, well, if I was on the stage, I would have had to take some action to pacify the people's emotions.

ANDERSON: So the timing of the - the blocking of Facebook has got nothing to do with the fact that you're on your way back to Pakistani politics and your followers are there on Facebook. You don't view it as a coincidence by any stretch of the imagination?

MUSHARRAF: Well, I don't think so at all, and I hope this banning of the Facebook is not permanent.

ANDERSON: All right. And, with that, we're going to leave it there.

Sir, it's always a pleasure to talk to you. We thank you very much indeed for joining us from Washington this evening.

END