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Thursday, 3 August, 2000, 09:30 GMT 10:30 UK
General Pervez Musharraf answers your questions
The military ruler of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf joined Talking Point LIVE from Islamabad to answer your questions in a special webcast.
To watch coverage of the forum, select a link below
Read and listen to the highlights below.
Zulfi Ahmad, Virginia, USA (Pakistani) What will happen if the two major political parties could not come up with clean leaders within the next 2 years? Will you postpone the elections so that they can find clean people?
Gen Musharraf: The corruption is an unending process, and certainly one cannot say in two years you are going to achieve miracles, but we do intend to bring the big fish into the accountability net. I'm sure we will achieve the target of making the country and its leaders conscious of the fact that we need to eradicate corruption.
Rajesh Menon, Malaysia: What makes you different from Zia and the other military rulers of Pakistan?
Damian Messing, Amsterdam: you compare yourself with President Putin of Russia who faces a similar challenge in establishing law and order while fighting corruption and creating a good business climate in order to bring in democracy at a more stable point in the economic development of Pakistan?
Gen Musharraf: We have a totally different environment than that which Mr Putin is facing in Russia, so I wouldn't want to compare myself to him. He is trying his best in his country and I am trying my best in mine.
Mobeen Khan, Karachi, Pakistan: Why is the Pakistani government in the past and now taking such an active interest in the affairs of the Kashmiri cause when our own house has been in a political and economical mess for such a long time now? The Pakistani government it appears uses the Kashmiri struggle as a means of distracting the people of Pakistan's attention from their own misery and hardships?
Gen Musharraf: The requirement of the armed forces is to ensure the security of Pakistan and protect the sovereignty and honour and dignity of the nation, not because of Kashmir alone. Why are we involved in Kashmir? Kashmir is a disputed territory, it is the people of Kashmir who are involved there and it is in line with the vast majority of people in Pakistan that we give support to the people of Kashmir.
Our involvement in Kashmir is not the cause of our economic deprivation and the maintenance of the armed forces is not because of Kasmir alone. And let me also tell you that our economy is suffering, not because of the armed forces, but because of our poor economic handling of Pakistan.
Naeem Ilyas, Pakistan What is the role of Pakistani government in latest developments in Kashmir (announcement of cease fire by Hizbul Mujahideen)?
Gen Musharraf: There's no role of the Pakistani government. This is an indigenous effort that is going on. A decision has been taken by Hizbul Mujahideen. It is up to India and Pakistan together to take this opportunity and initiate the process of dialogue towards a resolution of this long-standing dispute. We must not waste this opportunity that has come our way. I wouldn't like to comment on whether we support the ceasefire or not.
Sudhakar Kulkarni, India: How will the Pakistanis take care of the millions of Muslims who will no doubt be driven out of India by the "Sangh Parivar" (reference to Hindu nationalist groups) if a plebiscite is held in Kashmir?
Gen Musharraf: I don't think this scenario will happen, certainly adjustment will take place but I don't think that such a negative, pessimistic scenario will come about.
Bob Kirenga in Kampala, Uganda: What mechanisms has his Government put in place to avoid an outright nuclear war between his country and India her nuclear neighbour? In other words what is the way forward with regard to Pakistani's foreign policy with her nuclear neighbours?
Gen Musharraf: The only solution to ensure all of this is to bring about peace in the region. That is the guarantee against such doomsday scenarios. But other than that, if you're talking about our nuclear systems of control we have evolved an excellent command and control system and our entire strategic assets have been brought under very effective command and control. We know that we will be able to handle our assets in a manner in accordance with the desires of the world and we are extremely responsible. I don't think the situation would arise.
On Regional/Foreign Issues
Michael McAleer, Ireland: Do you ever foresee a united Islamic front - along the lines of Huntington's 'clash of the civilisations' - or do you see Pakistan more closely associated with the Western world?
Gen Musharraf: I don't see any such thing. I'm afraid Huntington has created unnecessary hype against Islam, he has created this thought in the mind of the West that Islam is the threat of the future and I don't think this has been a very productive exercise.
On Pakistanis abroad
Philip Watkins, United Kingdom: The middle class and professional elite of Pakistan are seeking to emigrate at an ever increasing rate. There appears little to encourage them to stay, no fledgling software industry as exists in India and very few prospects for foreign direct investment. How would you propose to encourage these people to stay and if you cannot do this how will Pakistan ever develop without the skills and resolve that they are exporting to the West?
Gen Musharraf: You've put your finger in the right place. There is a brain drain and it's because of our own doings. So now information technology is an area we are emphasising because we have the infrastructure and the talent. The solution lies in creating opportunities.
I allocated 15 billion rupees out of the meagre amount that Pakistan has to science and technology. We are going with great speed to developing information technology in Pakistan. I think there are going to be about six new universities are being opened and this will give a boost to developing talent and job opportunities.
On Social Issues
Mohammad Khurram Khan, Tennesse, USA: I am still concerned about the education system in Pakistan. What does your government plan on contributing to the overall development of national educational programs which make education more affordable at all levels and more accessible to everyone. Not just the rich?
Gen Musharraf: The government institutions are affordable, but the private institutions are very expensive. In education we have two major problems, the first is illiteracy, we are working on improving this and the other is the quality, we need qualitative improvement. We have created an educational advisory board, they have created a plan for these two issues, but the budgetary requirement is about 20 billion rupees, to implement the strategy they produce.
Umer Ahmed, London, UK: How can the country have true democracy without the abolition of bonded labour?
Gen Musharraf: The state isn't powerless to stop it - whenever we come to know about it, action is taken. It's the weakness of the law enforcement agencies that we want to rectify. Once that is rectified we will look into all these other cases.
Read your comments since the programme:
I had my doubts and beliefs that the military regime would spearhead its way through the economic backlashes it has faced. It has been so in the past, but times have changed and so has the military. Corruption has started to reek within them. The General's heart may be in the right place, but the military seems to have its own agenda that is devastating the populace.
Pakistan is lucky to have you as an interim head of state. SO FAR, instead of plundering the treasury and exploiting the power for personal motives like the previous two Prime Ministers, you have focused on restoring the institutions and economy of PAKISTAN. Pakistanis don't need a western style democracy, but a democracy which suits the culture and Islamic ideals of the majority of Pakistanis. It is hoped that you will be a candidate for top elective position, when civil government is restored in order to prevent the return of corrupt politicians.
The majority of Pakistanis support your sincere efforts to eradicate the ills in our society and high lighting the Kashmir dispute to get it settled once and for all so that our country can reach prosperity through peace at it's borders.
I am afraid that you will hand over government to civilians at expiry of or within three years and your justification of taking over Government for eliminating corruption will be left unaccomplished. You need at least 5 years to finish job which the essence of doctrine of necessity will require of you. I can guarantee you that the new election without completing the task of accountability will frustrate the very purpose for which you dismissed the government. With the same corrupt people wearing different hats of honesty will re-hold the reins of power. I shall hold you accountable if you did not finish what you started. Good luck and God Speed for the difficult assignment you have undertaken.
One of the main reasons why a Military Government gets support over the Political parties is that it can make decisions that may be unpopular with the masses or certain vested interest but in the interest of the country as a whole in the long term i.e. tax survey, display of arms etc. All the political parties have known that tax band had to be increased; every political party knew that gun's are a nuisance and there are many such examples. What most Pakistani's were hoping was with a person such as General Parvez Musharraf these vital issues will be resolved in a way that no political party even in a hundred years could achieve.
It appears that corruption in
Pakistan cannot be significantly
We have already destroyed our two generations by corruption and bad planning in every single field of life, the only way we can protect our children's future by good education and good values of life.
First of all I really appreciate the efforts by you so far for treatment of multiple elements, however I believe (albeit I don't know any political reason for that). You are very flexible to Nawaz Sharif and his group, their talks about Kargil plus there are few people who are extremely corrupt politicians/people and they are waived by military.
But beyond doubts I am very supportive of your steps and wish you good luck in your efforts.
Personally, I feel safer knowing that you are in control compared to other predecessors.
You are a real leader. You are showing us the real definition of democracy. Great job, Sir.
The whole of Pakistan is with you.
Within the illiterate and undisciplined masses of Pakistan there is the Pakistan Military, well disciplined and well educated. In my opinion the peace time role of the army should be increased and should include developing of infrastructure and providing basic education to the masses. Training camps in all districts should be established imparting basic education and basic military training.
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