Exactly 15 years after the traumatic events of 9/11 General (R) Pervez Musharraf in his Dunya News Interview with Dr. Moeed Pirzada on 11th September 2016, Exclusive Interview with Gen. Musharraf, Dunya News on the 15th anniversary of 9/11, made a clever effort to dispel some of the accusations made against him.

Before I go any further, its important to have a look at those accusations, that exist in public memory, in our consciousness; we all are familiar with these but just to recap I am enumerating these here like a class room board – this is the ‘white board’ of our ‘collective consciousness’. Here we go:

First, After 9/11 Musharraf gave in to the US demands too quickly, meekly and cheaply, which set into motion a slippery path for Pakistan, its social fabric, politics and institutions and because of which we are still suffering.

Second, Musharraf’s sudden U-turn on Afghanistan was flawed and Pakistan had to pay a heavy price for it – still paying; now even a resurgent Taliban don’t trust us.

Third, Rather than working on his 7 point agenda which had germs of success, his option to create a King’s party comprising of turn coats from other political parties and who were tagged with NAB cases was selfish and politically motivated – and eroded whatever good work NAB had been doing.

Fourth, Sending regular troops into South Waziristan in 2003 was in violation of the 1948 Agreement, when triggered insurgency in FATA.

Fifth, Giving a free hand to CIA and FBI from 2006 onwards, and allowing initial drone strikes ended up creating space for the launch of TTP and allowed foreign and regional agencies to establish their inter-connected network in Pakistan amongst the wounded tribal elements and religious groups; It was this ‘network of agencies’ that subsequently played havoc with Pakistani lives and targeted key institutions.

Sixth, Rather than making a change in strategy on Kashmir, he unilaterally changed the Kashmir policy which gave a tactic blow to freedom movement in Kashmir.

Seventh, his succumbing to ‘do more’ policy to please the US – often acting in cahoots with India – was detrimental to Pakistan’s interests.

Eighth, Musharraf’s “Concept of Enlightened Moderation” (apparently drafted by Henry Kissinger Associates on a fat fee) was in contravention to objectives resolution and Quaid-e-Azam’s dream of making Pakistan an Islamic welfare state. In his apparent bid to show soft face of Pakistan to the world, he strove to make Pakistan a secular state. This open declaration of secularism ended up igniting storms of religious extremism

Ninth; Issuance of NRO was a blunder which brought in dream-team of USA-UK, the PPP-MQM-ANP coalition caused worst harm to Pakistan in its 5 years

Tenth; Promotion of MQM – in his own self interest or miscalculation – was his worst sin which caused grievous harm to Karachi, Pakistan’s economy and jolted Pakistan.

Gen Musharraf has been publicly charged on the above mentioned accounts and on some of the points, even cases are being pursued by the Courts.  His sorry explanation of the decision to take a U-turn on Afghanistan had badly exposed his decision-making process as seriously limited, flawed and despondent which resulted present gloom in Pakistan. He kept changing his stance on many policy decisions, initially he maintained the bold stand that his sudden decision to support the global war on terror was a principled stand but later he revealed that it was due to US military threat.

In his autobiography, “In The Line of Fire” on page 201 he writes “When I was back in Islamabad the next day, our director general of Inter Services Intelligence, who happened to be in Washington, told me on the phone about his meeting with the U.S. deputy secretary of state, Richard Armitage. In what has to be the most undiplomatic statement ever made, Armitage added to what Colin Powell had said to me and told the director general not only that we had to decide whether we were with America or with the terrorists, but that if we chose the terrorists, then we should be prepared to be bombed back to the Stone Age. This was a shockingly barefaced threat, but it was obvious that the United States had decided to hit back hard”[i].

But apparently, both of these  statements are not correct; there is now enough evidence to prove that there was no direct military threat made to Pakistan, by the US. George Bush, Colin Powell and Richard Arbitrage have all denied, in their separate memoirs, that they ever threatened Pakistan with military action, let alone the threat of bombing it back to the Stone Age. [1] But General Mushrraf at once accepted all conditions set by the Americans. In his book “Bush At War” at page no 59, Bob Woodward writes “at I:30 P.M. on 13th September 2001,  Powell called Musharraf” and “ Mushrraf to Powell’s  surprise said that Pakistan would support the United States with each of the seven actions”.

In 2006, when Bush was asked about the threat made against Pakistan, he claimed that the first time he had ever heard of it was when he had read a report of Musharraf’s remarks in that day’s newspaper. “I guess I was taken aback by the harshness of the words,” said Bush. “All I can tell you is that shortly after 9/11, Secretary [of State] Colin Powell came in and said, President Musharraf understands the stakes and he wants to join and help root out an enemy that has come and killed 3,000 of our citizens. I don’t know of any conversation that was reported in the newspaper like that. I just don’t know about it”[2].

After making calamitous decision he tried to reach my late father General  Hamid Gul for consultation, whom he use to idealize as role model, but he refused to meet him because the decision was already taken. Later he sent message via director general ISI General Mehmood who visited our home and assured my father that Americans will go back before the month of Ramzan. He assured my father that we – Pakistani government – are not going to handover military bases to the US forces; we will not let them install anti Pakistan regime in Kabul, and they will be kept outside the penetration line and will be provided with the intelligence they need or demand. Conversely Central Intelligence Agency (CAI) got office space in the ISI headquarters, Pakistani civilians were bombed with drones, and Blackwater agents were roaming freely all over Pakistan until Musharraf was replaced by General Ishfaq Pervez Kayani.

Responding to a question by Dr. Mooed Pirzada he said that Americans never interfered in high rank military postings during his regime. However, Bush disclosed in his autobiography that Musharraf resigned from the post of chief of army staff, lifted the emergency and held free elections upon his “strong suggestion” in the fall of 2007.[3] Answering a question about Kalabagh dam he said that “We couldn’t construct Kalabagh dam due to political situation”. Whereas real fact is that he only aborted decision to construct Kalabagh Dam after receiving call by Muttahida Quami Movement’s (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain, may be even Altaf Hussain was vulnerable to “telephone call pressure” from another foreign country. But Musharraf oblivious of all that continuously nurtured Altaf Hussain’s MQM during 9 years of his regime. Several media reports indicate that he celebrated Altaf Hussain’s birthday parties in the President House.

Commenting on Kargil Operation Musharraf proudly proclaimed, “Our maneuver was conducted flawlessly, a tactical marvel of military professionalism, a plan for plugging gaps between our positions was formally presented and approved towards the middle of January 1999[4]. But we know, as director general military operations (DGMO) he took this same plan to Benzair Bhutto when she was the prime minister[5]. She trashed that plan realizing its consequences and aftermaths. On 6th October, 1998, he became chief of the armed forces and within few months he executed Kargil plan.

As far expert opinion on Kargil operation is concerned according to Lt-Gen (retd) Shaid Aziz who was heading ‘Analysis Wing’ of ISI during the conflict “The Kargil war was an unsound military plan based on invalid assumptions, launched with little preparation and in total disregard of the  regional and international environment”[6]. My father, Ex-DG ISI, General Hamid Gul was also of the view that a military operation without a clear political purpose is like shot in the dark and Mushrraf should have faced court martial for his harebrained adventure.

Similarly there are several highly controversial claims in autobiography. In my opinion he has unnecessarily divulged state secrets in his book which is full of contradictions and factual inaccuracies. For example dates of martial law imposed by Iskandar Mirza and dismissal of Benazir Bhutto’s second government are incorrect. He took official jets to set out on tours of Europe and America on promotional campaigns for boosting the sale of his book. It’s worth mentioning that many – including two former heads states of Bush and Vajpayee – have rejected claims made by him in his book. Musharraf’s disclosure in the book that the US had paid millions of dollars to Pakistan for capturing Al Qaeda operatives was a humiliation for the country. Under the US law, they cannot give prize money to any government or institution, and the federal Govt of Pakistan has denied receiving any such payments.

He couldn’t be more wrong when he tried to drag ethnicity as one the key factor for his selection as Army chief, and one page: 136 he further writes “It could be that such affronts on my part made the prime minister realize his folly in selecting me for my position. He had probably thought that being the son of immigrant parents, I would acquiesce in his demands ___ that I would feel insecure and vulnerable and do his bidding.”

He was unusually callous, when he tried to depict a picture where army officials cared about personal friendships more than their professional duties “Consider the cast of actors and their relationship to me. Apart from being their chief, I played squash with the two commanding officers, Shahid Ali and Javed Sultan. Mohammad Aziz was my appointee. The commander of the Rawalpindi Corps, Mahmood Ahmed, had been my regimental commanding officer when I was in charge of an artillery brigade in 1986-1987. The DGMO, Shahid Aziz, is my relative. The commander of the Triple One Brigade, Brigadier Sallahuddin Satti, was my brigade major when I was a brigadier. The officers critical to the countercoup in the other cities, Lahore and Karachi, were also my appointees. Only the head of our premier security service, the ISI, Lieutenant General Ziauddin, was close to Nawaz Sharif __ but Ziauddin did not command any soldiers. The deck was stacked against the prime minister”[7].

The biggest crime committed by him was to betray Muslim brothers of Afghanistan for which Pakistan is still paying through blood and flesh. I am optimistic that people seated in the helms of affairs will gradually reverse his policies, which indeed is the only salvation paradigm.

To conclude the reality of his services for Pakistan and “Pakistan First” slogan can be fully understood by this statement of former Israeli President Shimon Peres “As a good Jewish boy, I would have never dreamed that I would pray for the safety of Musharraf, the president of Pakistan. That is a most unexpected experience”[8].

[Abdullah Gul, is Chairman Tehrik Jawanan-e-Pakistan & Kashmir and DG. Measac Research Centre. He tweets as: MAbdullahGul. This is posted as a ‘Guest Blogger’ and all ideas expressed above are strictly his private opinion, and facts as known or gathered by him]

[1]  Bush at War by Bob Woodward.

[2]  US threatened to bomb Pakistan back to “the Stone Age” By Kranti Kumara and Keith Jones, September 2006

[3]  Decision Points, autobiography by G.W Bush.

[4] In The Line of Fire , Page 90

[5]  Interview with “Third Eye Television” 2003

[6] Daily Mail 2013, Qaswar Abbas

[7]  In The Line of Fire, page 121.

[8]  Newsweek magazine , 5 November 2001 , Washington Post

  1. [i] The then director general of ISI has declined to give his version.
  2. Bush at War by Bob Woodward.
  III.         [i]  US threatened to bomb Pakistan back to “the Stone Age” By Kranti Kumara and Keith Jones, September 2006
  1. [i] Decision Points, autobiography by G.W Bush.
  2. In The Line of Fire , Page 90
  3. [i] Interview with “Third Eye Television” 2003
  • [i] Daily Mail 2013, Qaswar Abbas
  • In The Line of Fire, page 121.
  1. [i]Newsweek magazine , 5 November 2001 , Washington Post

[Abdullah Gul, is Chairman Tehrik Jawanan-e-Pakistan & Kashmir and DG. Measac Research Centre. He tweets as: MAbdullahGul. All ideas expressed above are his private opinion, and facts as known or gathered by him]