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President Musharaff on Larry King Live

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    President Musharaff on Larry King Live

    I just saw the President on Larry King Live.
    Once again,he was very impressive and absolutely correct in all his statements.Here`s the transcript.

    LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, exclusive one-on-one with General Pervez Musharraf, president of Pakistan. His country is the key in America's anti-terror coalition.

    Good evening. Welcome to another edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We begin with an exclusive interview with President Pervez Musharraf.

    President Musharraf is president of Pakistan, a nation of 140 million strong. And this is an exclusive interview and a pleasure to have him with us. We begin by asking Mr. President, the other day the security chief of the Taliban said that Musharraf is our enemy and the next target in due time. Does that give you cause for concern?

    Good evening.

    We welcome to Larry King President Pervez Musharraf. He is the president of Pakistan. This is an exclusive interview. He leads that formidable nation of 140 million people.

    Mr. President, first about your own concerns, an interview published yesterday, the security chief of the Taliban said that Musharraf is our enemy and the next target in due time. Does that cause you some concern? PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PRESIDENT OF PAKISTAN: Well, it does cause concern, but not much. We have joined the coalition as a matter of principle, and we'll stick to our decisions.

    KING: So nothing they say would affect you or fear for you or your family?

    MUSHARRAF: No, I don't think so. As I said, it is cause of some concern, but it is not facts that one should worry over about it.

    KING: Was it a difficult decision for you, Mr. President, to support the international anti-terror campaign?

    MUSHARRAF: Yes, it was, I'll have to admit because of the domestic sentiments and as opposed to the requirements of action in Afghanistan, yes, there are risks. But it took a very considered opinion, and I know that a vast majority of the country is supporting whatever decision I took. Therefore, although it was a difficult decision, but we took the right decision.

    KING: You previously had supported the Taliban, Mr. President. What changed?

    MUSHARRAF: Well, the environment changed. As I've always been saying, policies are made in accordance with environments prevailing. Before the 11th of September, the environment was totally different and after the 11th of September, the environment drastically changed; and, therefore, the requirement of adjusting the policy in accordance with the ground reality.

    KING: Well, what, Mr. President, is the extent of your country's support for the United States' effort? We have air bases, airspace, intelligence. Are United States troops welcome in Pakistan?

    MUSHARRAF: Well, as I have enunciated a number of times, we have assured our participation in the coalition in as far as exchange of intelligence information. Secondly, use of our airspace; and, thirdly, providing logistic support. Now, within this, we are operating within these parameters and giving support as promised.

    KING: Would Pakistani troops, do you think, have to be involved?

    MUSHARRAF: No, I would not like Pakistani troops to get involved across the border in Afghanistan, and they are not involved at all.

    KING: And the meeting with Secretary Powell last week, would you call that meeting successful?

    MUSHARRAF: I would call it very successful.

    KING: And you've agreed to work a new broad-based government in Afghanistan. Will you give us how you view that government?

    MUSHARRAF: Well, I have been laying down four parameters for such a government. First, that we must ensure the unity of Afghanistan and its stability and bring peace into Afghanistan. The second parameter is to have a broad-based multiethnic government representative of all the ethnic groups and taking into account the ethnic composition of Afghanistan.

    Thirdly, that we must not ever be seen to be imposing a political solution. We should be seen as facilitating a solution; so, therefore, a solution needs to be in accordance with the wishes of the people of Afghanistan.

    And lastly, being a Pakistani, I would certainly like to have a friendly Afghanistan on our western border.

    So within these four parameters, one needs to crystallize the political dispensation that one would like to have in Afghanistan.

    KING: What role do you see for the Northern Alliance?

    MUSHARRAF: Well, they are a part of Afghanistan, certainly. They are a composition of Uzbeks, Tajiks, Hazaras and also Pashtuns. So they are very much a part of Afghanistan and they have a role in as far as their ethnic goes. So as I said, we are for a broad-based government and a multiethnic government in accordance with the ethnic composition of Afghanistan. So certainly, every Afghan has a role to play in a future government in Afghanistan.

    KING: What has the United States, Mr. President, promised you in return? I know they lifted sanctions, and they're helping you pay down some debt. Any other thing?

    MUSHARRAF: Well, first of all, let me say that we didn't get involved in a deal initially when we decided to be a part of the coalition. There was no such deal that was agreed upon.

    But, however, being our coalition partners, they do understand our problems and our difficulties and our requirements. So to that extent, the sanctions have already been lifted, and we are grateful for that.

    We are also in the process of negotiating the economic assistance that Pakistan can get, not only from the United States, but from the European Union and all our other countries who have been assisting us in the past also. So we are into negotiating an economic package to assist Pakistan out of its problems. KING: How would you describe, Mr. President, the relationship right now between your country and the Taliban government? You have diplomatic relations. How would you describe this balance?

    MUSHARRAF: Well, we do have diplomatic relations with Afghanistan, and there's the Afghan embassy there, representative of the Taliban. So, to that extent, we have diplomatic relations and contact with them.

    But, however, I would like to say that under the present circumstances, physical contact is not there at all, so our relations are totally in cold storage at the moment. KING: In the press conference with Secretary of State Powell, you said you hope the operation in Afghanistan is short -- doesn't last a long time. Do you think it will be short?

    MUSHARRAF: Well, the duration of the operation is dependent on achievement of objectives. So any military operation has to identify clearly what the military objectives are, and one has to achieve those objectives before bringing the operation to an end.

    But one does really wish and hope that the objectives are achieved and the military operation is short. That is what one would like to hope, and I, again, would like to say that we really hope and one should attempt at achieving the military objectives as fast as possible, so that the military operation comes to an end soon.

    KING: Are those objectives clear to you?

    MUSHARRAF: Well, they are, to my military mind, although I haven't really discussed it in such detail, but to a military mind, yes, I think they are pretty clear to me.

    KING: You have said that the United States should first take out the Taliban leader Mullah Omar. You said first that would be before bin Laden?

    MUSHARRAF: Well, this is given to me in one -- as a supposed interview that I gave. This was not an interview at all. This was an informal discussion where I did discuss the military aspects. I was just informally discussing that. And let me again say, any military operation has to identify the center of gravity first and then set military objectives to achieve that center of gravity.

    So, to that extent, one would like really to discuss whether Osama bin Laden happens to be the center of gravity of the operation in Afghanistan. To that extent, I did informally voice my views, and those still are there.

    KING: By the way, have you ever met bin Laden?

    MUSHARRAF: Never.

    KING: We'll be right back with the president of Pakistan on this edition of "Larry King Live." Don't go away.


    KING: We're back with General Pervez Musharraf. He is the president of Pakistan, and we thank him very much for joining us on this edition of "LARRY KING LIVE."

    What effect, do you think, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan will have on this campaign?

    MUSHARRAF: Well, it should not have any effect on the campaign as such, but it may have some effects in the Muslim world, so one would hope and wish that this campaign comes to an end before the month of Ramadan, and one would hope for restraint during the month of Ramadan because this would certainly have some negative effects in the Muslim world.

    KING: In all of the Muslim world, right? They would have a tough time handling it during this holiest part of the year.

    MUSHARRAF: I think so. It will certainly have some negatives.

    KING: Have you received any assurances that there wouldn't be any action during Ramadan?

    MUSHARRAF: Well, I haven't gotten any such assurances. But, as I said, the month of Ramadan is more than a month away -- about a month away, slightly less than a month I would say -- and one hopes that the military objectives, as I said, do get achieved within this duration so that the operation comes to an end.

    KING: What's the feeling, Mr. President, in your country about the United States? I know there have been some sizable protests. We've seen them. There's a militant group very opposed to the United States. So what's the general feeling in Pakistan about America?

    MUSHARRAF: Well, if you want a really frank answer, the feelings were good before, I would say, when we were together fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan.

    But after the Soviets were defeated in Afghanistan, we were left in the lurch. Pakistan was left in the lurch, everyone left us alone, and that, I would say, led -- there was a feeling of a sense of maybe, in the harshest terms, a sense of betrayal or a sense of abandonment which was felt in every Pakistani here in Pakistan, and we are trying to -- it will take some time to overcome this feeling that exists in Pakistan commonly.

    KING: Therefore, does that cause you problems politically supporting the United States since there is this feeling of betrayal?

    MUSHARRAF: Yes, it does cause -- that is the cause of the problem. I know that a vast majority of people have support for me, but my problem arises when the same feelings -- fraternal feelings do not exist with the United States as they existed in the '80s when we were fighting a war in Afghanistan together.

    So that feeling is not there, and that is causing a bit of confusion in the Pakistani mind. On one side, they are with me, with my government. On the other side, this support the United States action in Afghanistan is being expected out of them. So I would say they are confused at the moment, how to reconcile these two elements.

    KING: Have you discussed any of this with President Bush? And, by the way, do you speak to President Bush on a regular basis?

    MUSHARRAF: Well, I've spoken to him twice. I don't speak to him on a regular basis. I have spoken to him twice, and I have given him the reality on ground here in Pakistan, but not in such great detail. But I did give a lot -- a great amount of detail to the Secretary of State General Colin Powell.

    KING: Do you have, therefore, the fear again -- if you had abandonment once -- that if the operation ends in Afghanistan and they go to other places, you might have this happen again?

    MUSHARRAF: Yes, indeed, that is one of the prime topics discussed all around in Pakistan, that are we going to be abandoned again after our support to the U.S. coalition? Well, I feel and I really very sincerely hope that this does not recur, and the promises that we've got from the United States appear that they have realized the follies of the past, and I'm very hopeful that this will not recur.

    It will not be in our interest, in Pakistan's interest, and the larger interest of the United States, especially in relation to all that your strategic importance of this entire region.

    KING: A few other things: What would you think if America took it further and went into Iraq?

    MUSHARRAF: Well, frankly, at this moment, as with the sentiments around in the Muslim world, I don't think it will be very productive. It will certainly increase the opposition to the United States.

    KING: The refugees, how are you handling the problem? How many are coming over the border?

    MUSHARRAF: This is causing a great concern to us. Hundreds of thousands of refugees want to cross over into Pakistan, and our dilemma is that we already have about 2.5 million refugees here in Pakistan. And you can compare this when you think of Australia not accepting even 200 refugees. So what does a poor country, an economically weak country like Pakistan cannot really accept refugees over this great figure of 2.5 million.

    Now, the problem that arises is how to accommodate more, and we have been dealing with the UNHCR, and our point-of-view has always been that we must establish camps across the border in Afghanistan and all assistance to the refugees must be given there, so that people go back to Afghanistan instead of making them comfortable here in Pakistan so that they don't go back to their own country.

    So our country is already 140 million strong, and we cannot accept such a large influx of refugees coming in. So we only hope that with efforts, combined joint efforts with UNHCR, we can resolve this problem. Pakistan is prepared to accept people who are old, injured, children, some women. But we cannot open the flood gates for all refugees flowing into Pakistan.

    KING: Pakistan and India both have nuclear weapons. We know that. Do you fear if fundamentalists took control in your area of the world that they would have use of those bombs? And how well are they protected?

    MUSHARRAF: These thoughts are around the world, in the West. But let me tell you, these thoughts are with those who don't really understand the reality of Pakistan internally.

    First of all, let me say that all our nuclear assets, all our strategic assets are in very, very safe hands. We have an excellent command and control system which we have evolved, and there is no question of their falling into the hands of any fundamentalists.

    But let me also tell you that Pakistan is a moderate Islamic country, and I mean every word when I say that. No extremist -- religious extremist party has ever won any high number of seats in any election in Pakistan. Even now, when we had this local government election, let me tell you that the candidates who had support from religious parties are not even 2 percent of the total number elected. So, therefore, there is a moderate -- Pakistan is a moderate Islamic country, and there is no question of any fundamentalist getting a hold of our strategic assets.

    KING: And do you expect to resolve the dispute between you and India and Kashmir?

    MUSHARRAF: Well, you can't clap with one hand. I'm trying my best. You need to ask that question across the border, from the Prime Minister Vajpayee.

    KING: What can you tell us about the helicopter crash in Pakistan in which two U.S. soldiers were killed and three others injured?

    MUSHARRAF: Well, this happened at one of the bases which we had provided for logistic support, and this was a routine accident. It had nothing to do with any reaction or any action from any side. It was a routine accident on the airfield.

    KING: And, Mr. President, finally, are you optimistic or pessimistic about this whole terrorist situation? Do you think the coalition can succeed, or do you have genuine worries?

    MUSHARRAF: Well, really, action against terrorism does not start and end in Afghanistan. To that extent, I would agree with President Bush when he says that the operation is going to be prolonged. I presume he's talking of the action or the operation or the campaign against terrorism in its entire complexity. That will not end with the end of operations in Afghanistan. One has to persist to eliminate terrorism from around the world.

    KING: Thank you so much, Mr. President. Thank you for the time. We appreciate it a great deal.

    MUSHARRAF: Thank you very much, Larry. It was a pleasure talking to you.

    KING: My pleasure.

    [This message has been edited by Hollywood (edited October 22, 2001).]

    I think he did pretty good ... being a Gen.
    I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
    - Robert McCloskey