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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 March 2006, 06:56 GMT
Musharraf interview: Full transcript
Pervez Musharraf
President Musharraf says he has plenty of support to stay in uniform
Read the full transcript of Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf's exclusive interview with the BBC's Barbara Plett.

What are your expectations from the visit of President Bush?

Well, we are going to discuss many things, the agenda is very large of course, but basically terrorism and extremism. But when you ask me what my expectations are, my expectations are that he should be talking of Kashmir, and resolution of Kashmir and putting his weight behind resolution of the issue

Do you expect any breakthroughs on Kashmir?

Breakthrough will not come through President Bush's visit. Breakthrough will come when Pakistan and India agree to resolve the dispute and move ahead.

All that we expect from President Bush, all that I expect is his weight, his voice, pressurising all three groups: me, the Indians, and Kashmiris, to resolve the dispute, now, because now is the ideal time and ideal environment to resolve it.

He should put his weight behind it. And when I say weight really it means he must use all influence that we sit at the table and resolve the dispute

President Karzai of Afghanistan and other Afghan officials have said there still is cross border infiltration, that Taleban and other groups still find refuge in Pakistan, they're even saying that many of the suicide bombers carrying out attacks in Afghanistan are Pakistanis, how do you respond to these charges and what are you going to about them?

Yes indeed, things are happening from here, they do go across, I know that, we never deny that, and we are operating against them, we are taking all possible measures.

But to think if President Karzai thinks everything is happening from Pakistan, I totally disagree. He should put his own house in order, a lot is happening in Afghanistan also.

More is happening in Afghanistan itself, less is happening from Pakistan. We are trying to put our house in order, he should think of his own house, instead of keeping blaming Pakistan.

Pakistani troops in South Waziristan
There is complete coordination with the Americans on the war on terror
Now the other thing that I've said: if he thinks everyone is crossing from here, I've been saying let us fence the border and let us also mine the border. We are experts at mining, they should mine the border on their side. We will fence it on our side. If that is all right I am for it, so that they are not allowed to go across at all. And then let us see what is happening in Afghanistan.

Why don't they agree to this, I've said this openly many times before, they don't do it, for whatever are their reasons. I know how effective the fence, the Indian fence which is about 1,800 kilometres, and they are fencing the Kashmir mountains also, it is so difficult.

Why are they doing that, are they mad, they are spending billions of rupees. Because it is effective. Let's fence this border so that this blame game is killed once for ever

President Bush this week praised the coordination that Pakistan and America had in the War on Terror, though you denied there was any coordination in the recent attempt to strike at the al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri; so what is the situation, is there coordination or does the United States take unilateral action on Pakistani territory?

No there is tremendous amount of cooperation, one action doesn't mean that, I mean we should not paint the situation black or white based on one incident. Yes there was no coordination there, and we have told the United States, because the arrangement is that we operate on our side of the border, and the US and Isaf forces and Afghan forces operate on the Afghan side.

Now having said that, there is total coordination on the intelligence, and even operational level, communication, coordination, while we are operating, we too pass messages on the other side so that they can operate on their side. So there is intelligence cooperation and operational coordination at the strategic level down to even the lower, tactical level also

Is this something you're going to raise with President Bush, the strike in the tribal areas that killed civilians?

I think we've already raised it. I would mention it again. But what is more required is how can we enhance this intelligence cooperation, exchange of intelligence, faster exchange, and faster response in the form of operating against targets that we get.

That is the requirement now to be coordinated, but with President Bush we don't want to get into tactical details of how to manage it, it's the force commanders who are already doing this

In recent weeks we've been seeing many protests on the streets of Pakistan, against the cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, but also against you and your alliance with the United States. Do you think you're out of sync with your people in terms of your relationship with America?

The vast majority of Pakistan is totally in sync with whatever I am doing. Now if that was not the case, there would have been hundreds of thousands of people out in the street, which is not happening.

Anti-US protest in Peshawar
"Those on the streets have vested political interests"
This is a country of 150 million people, if there are a few thousand people who come on the streets, that is not the response of the people of Pakistan, so let's not be misled with that. Now here whatever you've seen lately in the streets is a combination of the people who are generally protesting against this blasphemy, and then there are vested political interests who have joined them trying to convert this whole issue into a political issue, so this is the combination.

We need to separate the two, so we are taking strong action to deny the politicisation of this issue by getting to the root, the people operating behind the scenes trying to politicise. This loot and arson that was done, was by these elements who are trying to politicise the issue. And we know who they are, and we are acting against them.

Now the other issue, the people who are genuinely coming out against blasphemy. We need to take multiple actions. Internally, yes indeed, they are demanding certain things, and we are taking up issues at the United Nations, at the OIC, to address this issue in a bigger way. And what is the bigger way? I personally think there has to be some kind of a law enacted at the United Nations where blasphemy against any prophet should be banned, and I say this because I know when people talk of freedom of press, when people in Europe talk of freedom of press, what about holocaust, why is holocaust discussion banned, where is freedom of press there?

Let's not apply rules in a selective manner, especially not applying rules to wherever sensitivities of Muslims are concerned, get involved. This is what creates all the trouble in the Muslim world, because they have come to realize that Islam and Muslims are targeted. Let the leadership of the world understand, this must be undone.

Just on the cartoon protests, we have seen some of the most violent protests in recent years in Pakistan, we have the main opposition bloc - Islamic parties - in parliament now, calling for you to resign, how seriously do you take this?

I consider it absolute nonsense, and I don't give any credence to it, because the people of Pakistan don't want me to resign at all, it is this small group as I said, they are trying to politicise the issue.

How has blasphemy been connected with my resignation, what is the linkage of the two? I am the strongest proponent actually, today, in Pakistan or in the Muslim world, talking of some kind of a solution. I believe very strongly whenever there is an issue of this nature, and it's a world, not a Pakistan problem, we must get to the root of the problem, let us not treat it superficially.

Unfortunately we treat everything, and again I would blame the leaders of the world, treat everything superficially, artificially, they don't want to get to the root because the root is difficult.

One of the demands of the protestors, echoed by international organisations like the Commonwealth, is that it's untenable to proclaim democracy and also have the positions of chief of the army and head of state simultaneously. So are you going to remove your military uniform as you have promised?

Well first of all I would like to tell the West that please define democracy, don't be confused about what is democracy. Democracy is freedom of expression, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of the media, mandate of the people, empowerment of the people to select their leaders, empowerment of the people to look after their own development and destiny and progress.

All this today, in the past six years, what I have done in Pakistan, is really the essence of democracy. What the West looks at is just the label of democracy. They look at whether elections have been held, and they're very happy. They look at superficial issues, they don't go into the details of what democracy is and then┐

But the Americans have been arguing that real security and real stability comes from a clear separation of powers and democratic elections, that's what they're saying to people in the Middle East.

Now, isn't democracy the will of the people? How have I been elected in this position: the senate, the national assembly, and the four provincial assemblies. All these people representing the 150 million people who have elected them and put them here, have voted for me, now what are we talking of democracy.

How am I in uniform as well as a president? Two thirds of the majority in the national assembly, which included all these religious parties, the PML and others, with a few exceptions, voted in my favour to be in uniform as well as president as a one time case. Isn't this democracy, this is the national assembly saying that.

So what democracy are we talking about? Are we applying democracy as we like, as we have in United Kingdom or United States? This is Pakistan, we have our own environment. The military here plays a great role, in stabilising, in maintaining the stability and integrity and progress of Pakistan.

Now that may not be in UK or in United States, it is in Pakistan, so therefore please come and see Pakistan, and then come and decide whether there is democracy. I challenge today any, most of the commonwealth countries, they are the custodians of democracy, I challenge most of them to see democratic environment in Pakistan, first define democracy and then go around in every country and see where the true democracy, the essence of it, where is it.

Maybe we are violating of one, but then we are scoring nine out of ten where we are violating one but doing nine, the others may be scoring only one, and violating nine others

Do you expect pressure from President Bush on this issue?


He's never raised it with you?

He does say we have to encourage democracy, I also say that, I want to encourage democracy, I'm the biggest proponent of democracy, therefore I say, we must understand what is democracy, first let's get to that, because if you are thinking of democracy in a different way than I am, we are talking on different wavelengths actually, so the requirement is first let us define democracy and then apply the gauge to Pakistan.

But when we don't do that, we take one issue, uniform, now is uniform the issue of democracy. Well, yes it is, but if the uniform is approved by the national assembly of Pakistan with a two thirds majority, what democracy are we talking of?

The biggest gauge is the people, the people of Pakistan. And I know 200% that the people of Pakistan are with me, the vast majority. Don't be misled by a few thousand who come on the streets. The vast majority is with me.

If they were not, first of all I would quit myself. The day I come to know I'm not popular, I'll quit. But more than that, they'll be out in the streets, and I would not be allowed to stay. If you see the history of past dictators in Pakistan, they were not allowed to stay by the people, because they were out in the streets by the millions.

And a civilian democrat like Zulfikar Bhutto, who was supposed to have been a civilian and a great democrat, he was kicked out by the people of Pakistan. All dictators have been removed by the people of Pakistan, where are the people of Pakistan, are they coming into the streets? No because they accept me, and they accept my policies.

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