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Time for political horses to leave Pakistan Wednesday, 27 August, 2008

Posted by Farbod in Interviews.
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Press TV – Time for political horses to leave Pakistan.
By Afsaneh Ostovar, Press TV, Tehran

In a televised public address on Monday Aug 18, Pakistan’s Pervez Musharraf pronounced his resignation as president in order to not face the impeachment threat posed by Pakistan’s new government.

He said his resignation would serve the interest of his nation and prevent a domestic crisis in the country. The country will enter a new stage as Musharraf’s successor will be elected by Pakistan’s parliament and four provincial assemblies in early September.

The following is an exclusive interview with Dr. Ghulam Taqi Bangash, Professor of History and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at Peshawar University.

Q. Despite his claims that he would never give in to pressure, Pervez Musharraf stepped down. What made him resign?

A. Politicians tell lies. If you trace his rule, you will find many such lies. At a time when the law and order situation was terrible and the country was in an economic mess, he told the public that everything is fine and nothing is wrong and that it was only a propaganda by his opponents.

Q. Speculations swirl that he would not have resigned if he had not received guarantees to secure him against arrest or trial. What is your take on this?

A.I also think so.

Q. Why didn’t the army support Musharraf?

A. Because no one bids on a losing horse.

Q. He was Washington’s closest ally in the war on terror. What would be the US foreign policy towards Pakistan after Musharraf?

A. The Pakistani establishment is deeply dependent on US economic support with strong strings attached to the economic aid. Pakistan’s Foreign Policy will mainly remain the same due to extremely strong influences of the USA on Pakistani establishment.

However, there be cosmetic changes in the Foreign Policy which may appear sometimes impressive but not in reality. Re-arranging furniture in your drawing room does not mean you changed the structure of the building for better environment in the entire house.

Q. What are the implications of Musharraf’s resignation on Pakistani parties? A big division has been revealed between Pakistan’s Muslim League and Pakistan’s People’s Party over the reinstatement of former chief judge Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry? What do you think?

A.There will be some impact but again there are too many cracks in the political parties of Pakistan. Every political party in Pakistan is self-divided and most political parties are seriously fractured.

The internal intelligence agencies and international intelligence agencies are also busy having deep contacts within and with the political parties. There are some personal politico-legal problems of the individuals involved.

On top of the list is Zardari himself- who came to power after a deal with Musharraf. Finally, there will be a compromise tu ma ra Haji bego. Mun shuma ra haji begoium [you scratch my back, I scratch yours]. I will not be surprised if he is reinstated after nods in affirmative on some legal issues which he will not touch.

Q. Would the next Pakistani president be a US ally in the fight on terror?

A. Of course! What else do you think? He cannot come to power unless he is a US ally.

Q. Is the term “dictator” applicable to Musharraf as he “himself” decided to resign?

A. Yes! He came to power wearing heavy military boots. A non-Dictator has a maximum term he went beyond maximum. He removed an elected Prime Minister and defied the present Prime Minister. By every definition, he was a dictator because the people had no power. Popular leaders were in exile. Pakistan becomes ripe for a cosmetic change. He went down because the political horses had to be changed.

Q. Will the new government manage to fight insurgency?

A.Yes, insurgency will be fought. And in return the state will further weaken. A lot of damage will be done to the state and the people. The problems are too complex but it does not mean the balance of power is in favor of the insurgents. The insurgents are powerful but they are less powerful than the state in its present condition.

Q. Do you suppose Musharraf’s opponents will bring him to justice?

A. It has never happened before so it will not happen in Musharraf’s case as well. No ruler in Pakistan has ever been punished. The civil-military-bureaucratic-elite support each other.

Murder is an exception but I do not think he will be murdered. Political murders mostly (except Hayat Sherpao’s murder) in Pakistan were a work of the intelligence agencies. Murtuza Bhutto, Shahnawaz Bhutto, Z.A Bhutto, Ziaul Haq- all were murders.

Forget about Political Justice in Pakistan. Pakistan still shamefully depends on foreign police. Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan’s murder was mishandled by British Police as was Benazir’s murder mishandled by Police.

Could you believe it Benazir’s murder case taken to UN? It is outrageous. What will a poor man do in Pakistan when he is murdered?

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