Musharraf Forcefully Articulates Pakistan’s Role in the War on Terror at Stanford
By Ali Hasan Cemendtaur
Following his talk, former President Musharraf spoke with
Stanford political science Professor Scott Sagan, left, and
answered questions from the audience
Stanford, CA: If bomb sniffing dogs, a heavily guarded venue, long lines of people waiting to get in, TV vans parked outside the building, were not credible enough clues to convince you about the importance of the visitor, Pervez Musharraf, speaking at Stanford University on January 16, put on the air of Pakistan's chief spokesman to the West to make you believe the General is planning a comeback.
While a small group of protestors outside the Memorial Auditorium of Stanford University distributed pamphlets accusing the ex-President of various crimes, almost 1700 people listened to Pakistan's ex-President speak on "Terrorism and Extremism: The need for a holistic approach" with rapt attention. The retired General spoke for over fifty minutes mainly describing Pakistan's role in helping the West defeat the Soviet Union, and now in the ongoing War on Terror. He said that the war against the Taliban was Pakistan's war and the West should not doubt Pakistan's intentions or loyalty in this battle. Musharraf talked about "powerful lobbies" trying to malign the Pakistan Army and the ISI; he said that Pakistani soldiers were being killed while fighting the militants, and asked how could anyone believe that 'double-dealing' was going on.
Musharraf's holistic approach to fight terrorism involved keeping a strong military "because that's the language these elements understand", but also alleviate poverty and educate people, and solve long-simmering political conflicts.
Musharraf's speech was followed by a short one-to-one question and answer session with Political Science Professor Scott Sagan. Besides other questions Sagan asked why Pervez Musharraf pardoned Abdul Qadeer Khan — Khan was accused of selling nuclear secrets to other states. Musharraf said that AQ Khan was a very popular person in Pakistan and the 'sensibilities' of his country demanded that AQ Khan not be put through any interrogation involving non-Pakistanis.
The Q&A session was then opened to the larger audience. In most of the questions asked by the South Asian students Musharraf was criticized for removing Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, for selling his countrymen to the US, and for suppressing the media. In response, Musharraf said that whatever he did against the Chief Justice, he did according to the rights provided to him in the constitution as President of Pakistan. He blamed 'certain elements' for taking political advantage of the situation; he said that ultimately the situation got so bad that he was forced to declare emergency.
In response to a question about missing people, Pervez Musharraf said that the 600 people he wrote about in his book whom he handed over to the US were all foreign members of Al-Qaeda. He claimed that no Pakistani was given to the US, and said that he even sent a team to Guantanamo Bay to get a few Pakistanis who were arrested in Afghanistan released from the US custody.
Talking about the Mumbai attacks Musharraf said that Pakistan must punish those who were involved in planning the attacks, but should not extradite anyone. He claimed that whereas sixty-one Pakistanis were killed in Samjhota Express explosions which were later proved to be the work of Hindu extremists and ex-Indian Army personnel, Pakistan never demanded extradition of the people responsible for that act of terror.
A section of the audience at Gen Musharraf’s lecture at Stanford, California
In his report ‘Ex-Pakistani president defends country's record in war on terror’ Adam Gorlick stated: Pakistan's former president defended his country's record on combating terrorism Friday, and said Pakistan hasn't received enough financial support or international credit in its fight against groups like al-Qaida and the Taliban.
"We have been a victim of terrorism," Pervez Musharraf told a capacity crowd in Memorial Auditorium. "It is wrong to think of Pakistan as a perpetrator, as a cause of terrorism."
Musharraf, who resigned his post in August under the threat of impeachment, was defensive about the money Pakistan received under his watch from Western countries in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He said the $10 billion contributed by the United States was a miniscule amount compared to the funds given to Afghanistan and Iraq.
"There is no misuse of these funds," he said. "They are utilized. This is pittance for a country which is in the lead role to fight terrorism. We must get much more."
Throughout his hour-long speech, Musharraf kept returning to his comparison of terrorism to a tree. He insisted that trimming leaves and cutting away branches does nothing to keep either one from growing.
"We cannot stop their growing unless we attack the root," he said.