Friday, November 16, 2007

Hamid Mir Responds to Questions about Pakistan Crisis: CBC

Your Interview
Pakistan in crisis
CBC - November 9, 2007

As the political atmosphere in Pakistan becomes increasingly volatile, the world’s attention is being focused on that country. Pakistan has been a vocal ally of the U.S. in the so-called war on terror, but it has long been a country with a complex political landscape.

With President Pervez Musharraf having declared emergency rule and Benazir Bhutto, a former prime minister just back from exile, under constant threat, making sense of what’s truly happening on the ground can be difficult.

Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir has been covering the country since 1987 — he was one of the first independent journalists to interview Osama bin Laden back in 1997 and has broken many important stories — and he has an insider’s perspective on the political system.

Hamid Mir joined us on Thursday, November 15 and took your questions on what’s happening in Pakistan and what it means for Canadians and the world.

Stephen Hunter: In your opinion, what would be the reaction of other world powers, particularily the U.S. and India if the current government of Pervez Musharaf were overthrown by an Islamist party or movement?

Hamid Mir: First of all the majority of the people in Pakistan definitely love Islam but they are not extremist and no extremist Islamic party can overthrow Musharraf in Pakistan. Extremists don't believe in democracy — like the militants of Swat. They hate democracy, but Islamic parties like Jamat-i-Islami believe in democracy and they have an alliance with secular and liberal parties opposing Musharraf. Extremists are not popular in masses but if they overthrow Musharraf then not only U.S. and India, but the majority of Pakistanis will also condemn them. Outsiders will only condemn but we will resist them.

rauf (toronto): The current situation in Pakistan is amongst other things, due to pressure upon Musharaff from certain outside sources who also paved the way for Bhutto's return. Could the situation have been a little calmer if Bhutto had not been eased back into the country-all with her failures in the past and proven corruption charges?

Hamid Mir: Musharraf imposed emergency rule just to save himself from an expected Supreme Court verdict against him. The Supreme Court was going to say that a sitting Army Chief cannot contest a Presidential election. Benazir Bhutto was allowed to come back for helping Musharraf but Musharraf’s regime created a situation in which Benazir was forced to start opposing him because some government ministers were taunting her.

Shahid Cheema: Do you think there will be fair elections if they are held as promised in January. Thanks!

Hamid Mir: There was emergency rule in 1971 and a fair election was held under General Yahya Khan but Judiciary was independent at that time. The Chief Justice was not in detention. Musharraf is proving himself worse than General Yahya Khan, no opposition party has any faith in him and there will be no fair and free election under Musharraf.

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