Former generals good for nothing: Musharraf
The News, January 25, 2008
Says Pakistan not backtracking on fight against terror
LONDON: President Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday night angrily hit out at the retired generals who this week said that they no longer had confidence in him as the remarks fueled western speculation that the president was losing the support of the Army.
"They are insignificant personalities," the president told the Financial Times in an interview on his arrival at the Davos World Economic Forum. "Most of them are ones who served under me and I kicked them out. They are insignificant. I am not even bothered by them," he added.
"I know that my popularity has reduced," the president said. But recent opinion polls showing that an overwhelming majority of the Pakistani public wants him to leave office were "incorrect", he said.
Asked if he could serve a full term as the president, Musharraf said, "Yes, why not if the people of Pakistan do not want me, well, certainly that is what politics is, that is what democracy is about." However, he insisted that, under the Constitution, he could only be thrown out by a two-third majority of the parliament.
"I have no choice. According to the Constitution, the president has certain powers, but the government is run by the prime minister," he said. At the same time, Musharraf made it clear that if the opposition comes into power it would be unable to proceed with the impeachment holding the argument that the president should be impeached because he held power unconstitutionally.
"I don't care whether they like or not. I follow the Constitution and I was elected according to the Constitution. Anybody who says it was not done constitutionally is absolutely wrong." In the interview, the president rejected suggestions from western analysts that the Pakistani intelligence services were losing grip on al-Qaeda supporting militants.
"The intelligence services are doing a good job," he said, adding that the recent spate of suicide bombings was "an irritant". Asked if the wave of militancy could break up Pakistan, he said, "I would give zero per cent chance to that. But if it is causing anxiety, yes indeed."
President Musharraf added: "There is a misperception in the media that everything is happening in Pakistan. The actual victory or defeat of the militants will be in Afghanistan." Earlier, in a brief interview with the BBC Television in Davos President Pervez Musharraf said he will quit as the country's head if people do not want him to continue.
"The day I realize that I can't contribute for the country and people don't like me to continue, I will quit," the president said. In order to judge his popularity among the masses, President Musharraf said he always considered the viewpoint of all segments of society rather than depending on individual statements.
"I get a feed from all segments of society - military, civil society, businessmen, individualists...I don't make such judgments on individual statements," he said. When questioned about his acceptance among the world leaders, President Musharraf said they had confidence in him.
"I keep on talking to US President Bush and British prime minister and know what they feel about me," he said. President Musharraf also mentioned his recent meetings with French president, Swiss president and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who expressed confidence in him.
"There is a dichotomy what is media trying to say about me and what the leaders talk to me and tell me," he said. President Musharraf said he was concerned about dispelling foreign investors' reservations about coming into Pakistan, adding the economy must be sustained.
"That's why I have come here to tell people that Pakistan is not a banana republic," he said. Meanwhile, in an interview with CNN television, President Musharraf categorically stated Pakistan was not back-tracking from its commitment to fight terrorism, saying its success or failure in this global war will have impact in the west.
"We are fighting against terrorism and extremism for Pakistan and the West must know the success or failure in Pakistan will have an impact in the streets of Europe," he said. The president clarified that it was a misperception that Pakistan was waging a fight against terrorism and extremism for the United States or the West.
"I am not fighting for anyone. I am fighting for Pakistan. Why would I back track if it is in the interest of Pakistan. Again the misperception is as if I am doing something for the United States or the West."