Former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf has said that if he was in the position, he would give an extension to Director-General Inter-Services Intelligence Lt General Shuja Ahmad Pasha, saying he is an “able officer” and a “good man”. He, however, repeatedly refused to offer any comments on Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
Replying to a question by host Shahzeb Khanzada on “To The Point”, aired on Express News on Thursday, the former president praised Shuja Pasha as being an “intelligent officer, a straight talker and a person with a very upright character”. Musharraf, who is also the chief of the All Pakistan Muslim League, added that the DG ISI is “a good person as well”.
The APML chief was asked whether Kayani’s appointment as the COAS was part of the National Reconciliation Ordinance deal with former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and whether it was true that Musharraf delayed Kayani’s promotion till he was compelled to fulfill his promise. However, the former president replied: “Absolutely wrong”.
He did, however, add: “It was Kayani who always accompanied me. I cannot confirm that Bhutto had a soft corner for Gen Kayani.”
Further asked about whether promoting Kayani was a good or bad decision, Musharraf said, “I shall say ‘no comments’”.
Yet, the former president strongly defended Shuja Pasha when it was pointed out his tenure is marked by events like the Mehran attack, the May 2 incident, and the attack on the General Headquarters. The DG ISI cannot keep a check on everything, was his reply.
The Mehran base and the GHQ are open places and anyone who is ready to risk his life to attack these places can do it, he said. “Even a child can jump over the wall of Mehran, you cannot blame the DG ISI for that.
“He does not have angels to keep him informed. He has unearthed 95% things, like terrorist acts, but nobody talks about them. He is running the organisation in a good way and has done well.”
Asked about the DG ISI’s frequent visits abroad, which came under scrutiny, Musharraf said, “The DG ISI does not have to seek permission like a child has to. He can meet people locally and internationally. If he is on a fact finding mission, it is justified even if it is against the prime minister.”
Asked again about Kayani and rumours that the army chief’s brothers are involved in corruption, he said that he cannot comment till he has proper information, but added that “the smoke suggests fire”.
“It is very sad that relatives of the people in leadership roles use their positions for corruption and plunder the wealth of this poor nation while nothing is done for the betterment of people,” he said.
Says he had forewarned Benazir Bhutto
Musharraf also said that Baitullah Mehsud was behind Bhutto’s murder but the actual point to be investigated is who approached him for it.
He said that after he received a foreign intelligence report that there was risk to Bhutto’s life, he had called her and informed her that “BB, if you do not trust our agencies, this a foreign report. There are suicide bombers around.”
Asked whether Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s claims that he wrote 14 letters to Musharraf for provision of security which was not provided to Bhutto were true, Musharraf said they were one of Malik’s “apple and banana” comments. He said as the then president, he was not into the details and that PPP jiyalas had taken over the security.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2012.
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