Admitting that Pakistan army has to rig polls to perpetuate its hold on power, a former ISI chief has said President Pervez Musharraf should quit as army chief after the next elections but continue as President for another term.
Former ISI Director General Asad Durrani said an army regime only digs itself deeper into its hole as time passes and it has to rig elections to perpetuate its power.
Durrani told a gathering at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington on Wednesday that Musharraf should take off his uniform and stay in power thereafter for four to five years, Daily Times reported.
Apparently referring to the present government headed by Shaukat Aziz, he said civilians elected with the help of a military government are usually those who either cannot be elected on their own or have "some skeletons" to hide.
But a military government is forced to create this "civilian facade" to legitimise the takeover, he said.
"Some of those politicians who become part of this facade have a murky background. Some cannot win elections on their own. Some have skeletons to hide. Some do it for benefits," he said.
Explaining Pakistan's failure to have a stable political government, he said, "politicians only learn at the cost of the country. They make mistakes but this is the only process."
"But these mistakes are viewed differently in the military where people start saying we cannot afford these mistakes," he said.
The military's meddling in politics affects "the normal flow in the higher ranks and ultimately loyalty to the coup makers also peters off," the former ISI chief said.
Durrani also called for a rethink of the common Pakistani view that Pakistan's fate is determined by "two - Allah and America.
He said Allah does not spend all his time looking after Pakistan. As for America, its role has been exaggerated.
He did not agree that every major decision is taken by the army even when civilian governments are in power and cited two examples where the decision-maker was the elected prime minister - the nuclear blasts of 1998 and then Prime Minister AB Vajpayee's visit to Lahore.
Asked about Kargil, he replied "no one knows the truth and every side has been economical with the truth".
On the whereabouts of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden, he said no one knew where he was, but if he were found in Pakistan, it would be "embarrassing".
He claimed there are 14 different American organisations in Islamabad looking for bin Laden.