Urgent action is needed to salvage Pakistan’s dire relations with the United States, former president Pervez Musharraf said, after announcing he would return home soon to re-enter politics.
“Today Pakistan-US relations are at their lowest, this is because of a trust and confidence deficit,” Musharraf told Reuters in an interview in Dubai.
“I believe Pakistan needs to justify and clarify the issue of Osama bin Laden having been found in Abbottabad,” Musharraf said. “At the same time the United States needs to identify what environment they are leaving in 2014 when they quit because that is going to affect Pakistan directly.”
Islamabad’s cooperation with Washington is seen as crucial to helping to stabilise the region before foreign combat troops leave Afghanistan in 2014.
“I believe that inter-state relations are more than half interpersonal relations between the leaders … if I think about myself, I could pick up the phone to call President Bush anytime I got agitated about anything.”
On Sunday, Musharraf addressed a rally via video in Karachi and announced his plan to return to the country between January 27 and Jan 30 and participate in the general elections.
Some media reports have said Musharraf, who faces the threat of arrest upon his return on charges that he failed to provide adequate security to former prime Minister Benazir Bhutto before her assassination in 2007, will seek Saudi help in obtaining guarantees that he will not be detained.
“There are no guarantees that I’m looking for from anyone, I said many times that my intention is to get the support of the people,” Musharraf told Reuters.
He did say, however, that he would hold talks with Saudi officials.
Asked if he had asked any of the military leaders for protection once he returns, Musharraf said it was not the army’s duty to provide security to individuals. “I don’t like to embarrass them, I haven’t asked them,” he said. “I will ensure my own safety, I know how to keep myself safe … there are a large group of officers who are in support and I’m very proud of that.”
Musharraf said he believed that the army would not move to take over power from President Asif Ali Zardari. He said he had made a mistake by granting amnesty to politicians and bureaucrats accused of corruption, embezzlement, money laundering, murder, and terrorism between 1986 and 1999.
“The NRO is something I shouldn’t have done. Although I was advised to, but the ultimate decision was mine,” he said, referring to the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) which he issued in 2007.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2012.