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BBC Breakfast with Frost interview with 22 June, 2003
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GENERAL MUSHARRAF: I think democracy is complete in Pakistan and I don't think there's any reason for us, for Pakistan to be denied entry into the Commonwealth.
DAVID FROST: There is some pressure that you would be, if you were to be president for your whole five years, but maybe only chief of the army for three years, is that a compromise that you would consider?
GENERAL MUSHARRAF: Well yes I do agree in principle that I should not be a combination of president and the chief of army staff and sooner or later I have to give up this appointment of chief of army staff. Maybe it's earlier than three years, a lot is happening in, especially in our frontier province. So under these destabilised conditions, all around, there is a requirement of my wearing these two hats. Once stability comes - and let me judge it myself - and I will judge it in all sincerity and honesty - and I will give up the army chief's role.
DAVID FROST: And you mentioned, you mentioned there that what's going on in the north west frontier province, the development there and the introduction there of Shariah law and so on, that's, that's unwelcome as far as you're concerned?
GENERAL MUSHARRAF: Shariah is quite misunderstood around the world. This similar Shariah law was enacted in a frontier province many years back - there is no change at all in that. The clauses that are included are quite innocuous. The bigger problem actually arises from certain, I would call them extremist or obscurantist, acts of forcing people against their wishes, dictating the dresses of people, moving against music, moving against billboards. These are acts of extremist nature - what I call Talebanisation - which I am watching, which one takes very seriously and one needs to nip these in the bud. And I, certainly the whole nation, does not want Pakistan to be Talebanised.
DAVID FROST: Do you think the war on terror is being won at the moment, Mr President? Do you think
GENERAL MUSHARRAF: In our region certainly yes. In our region I am very sure that the war against al-Qaeda is being won. There are limited numbers, we have got their top echelon, even the second echelon. I think we are dealing with something like the third echelon and of one or two more important personalities who are at large. So the, the, as a homogenous body under a command and control arrangement, they don't exist any more.
DAVID FROST: What about, what about the other factor, finding - do you think we'll ever find Osama Bin Laden or do you think he's dead or do you think he's somewhere up in the north-west province?
GENERAL MUSHARRAF: Initially I thought he may be dead. And I believe now that more chances are that he is alive. Now where he is, it can be either side of the border and I keep saying that maybe he's moving continuously. If he is moving with a small body of people around him, he could be on the Pakistani side. But if he is moving with a large body then I think Afghanistan is a better place to hide, because here he will be exposed.
DAVID FROST: What about in other areas, like for instance in the nuclear area? People get very worried and concerned that both, both you and India have warheads and so on - nuclear warheads and so on - and neither of you have signed an anti-proliferation treaty?
GENERAL MUSHARRAF: Well theoretically mere possession of a nuclear weapon is dangerous but I think the, under the present circumstances, the way there is a balance in the conventional force levels between India and Pakistan, the danger does not exist.
DAVID FROST: And at the same time India's agreed that they've - they've come up with that phrase about no first use but Pakistan has not said that, have you?
GENERAL MUSHARRAF: Well we have gone a step further. Every country guards its own interests. They said say that for certain interests of their own. We have gone a step further. We said why not destroy all the weapons? Why not, why not de-nuclearise South Asia? Why not reduce forces in South - we've offered them reduction of forces. We've offered them de-nuclearisation. They don't accept that.
DAVID FROST: And do you think - you've looked at the situation for so long - do you think there is, there is a solution that could be found to the problem of Kashmir, or will it always be an unresolved situation?
GENERAL MUSHARRAF: We need to accept the reality of Kashmir, we need to move forward towards a solution, we need to eliminate those solutions which we, which are unacceptable to the Kashmiris or Pakistan or to India, and then strike, select one of the solutions out of the remaining. It is not difficult, it's certainly do-able - I, I am strong, I strongly believe that there solutions which can be acceptable to all three. There is a lack of sincerity to a solution of the Kashmir dispute - from the Indian side, may I say, because of their perceptions of themselves, of their own perceptions of becoming a world power and therefore the need to dictate terms and therefore they don't have to discuss, they have to dictate to, to all the countries around themselves. We want peace, we want harmony but we will not compromise on our sovereign equality.
DAVID FROST: You are on your way to Washington next, Mr President. What would you like to come from your session, sessions at Camp David with President Bush?
GENERAL MUSHARRAF: Basically it's on the bilateral side, a deepening of relationship between Pakistan and United States.
DAVID FROST: Closer military ties, would you say, with Britain and with America?
GENERAL MUSHARRAF: I'm, basically I'm for military - as when we talk of military ties we are talking of defence, military purchases and collaboration in the training fields, in exchange of officers on courses, but basically my concern is the sanction that are imposed on Pakistan and military purchases while India is purchasing freely from all over the world, it has increased its budget to, by about 50 per cent in the last three years. My concern really is this conventional imbalance which may be created in the future, disturbing the status quo in the region.
DAVID FROST: Looking at the state of Pakistan at the moment and that in fact the Islamic fundamentalists, while they're contained in those two states in the north-west, do you think, do you see any danger of Pakistan becoming a fundamentalist Islamic republic?
GENERAL MUSHARRAF: I, I sincerely think there is no danger, for the reason I know the people of Pakistan. The people of Pakistan vastly, vast majority - and I mean every word of it - are against Talibanisation or extremism or an obscurantist view of Islam. They are moderate, they want a progressive and an enlightened Islamic state - and we are an Islamic state. We are Muslims, the people are staunch Muslims, but they certainly are not for an extremist view of Islam, I'm very clear about it. So therefore whatever is happening in the frontier province must not alarm the world, it's not the perception of the vast majority of people of Pakistan. The only thing is that this vast majority must raise its voice. It must use its voice.
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