President Musharraf defends emergency | world | Hindustan Times
Today in New Delhi, India
Jul 25, 2017-Tuesday
-°C
New Delhi
  • Humidity
    -
  • Wind
    -

President Musharraf defends emergency

The Pakistani military ruler says the measure would not interfere with the holding of free and fair elections.

world Updated: Nov 14, 2007 13:18 IST

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said it will be difficult for him to work with former premier Benazir Bhutto as she is confrontational and producing "negative vibes".

Defending his declaration of emergency on November 3, the military ruler said the measure would not interfere with the holding of free and fair elections. He also said he could not set a date for ending the emergency as demanded by the world community, including the US.

In a wide-ranging interview with The New York Times on Tuesday, Musharraf complained about Bhutto's conduct since her return to Pakistan a month ago.

"You come here on supposedly on a reconciliatory mode, and right before you land, you're on a confrontationist mode. I am afraid this is producing negative vibes, negative optics."

Bhutto returned after eight years in self-exile after Musharraf issued an ordinance to grant her amnesty in graft cases and to pave the way for further parleys between them on a possible power-sharing deal.

Yesterday, Bhutto, now under house arrest in Lahore to prevent her leading a march against the emergency, urged Musharraf to quit as president and said she would never serve with him in any future government.

Asked when the emergency would end, Musharraf said: "I don't know, I don't know. We need to see the environment."
Musharraf was critical of Bhutto, saying she would be difficult to work with. He said she was under house arrest because she had accused Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervez Elahi of plotting against her. Thus, Bhutto was grounded to prevent an incident that she could then blame on the government, he said.

Bhutto's plan for her party to take a "caravan" across Punjab was "a preposterous thing to do", Musharraf said.

He questioned Bhutto's popularity and, at one point, scanned an op-ed article she recently wrote for The New York Times that he had brought with him to the interview.

In reaction to her claim that she would sweep the election, Musharraf said: "Let's start the elections and let's see whether she wins.

"Constitutionally today she has been prime minister twice, what about the third time? She is not legally allowed, she is not constitutionally allowed. Why are we taking things for granted?"

Musharraf earlier passed a law barring a prime minister serving more than two terms. He rejected an appeal by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to lift the emergency that led to the suspension of the Constitution, dismissal of Supreme Court judges and arrests of thousands of opposition party workers, lawyers and human rights activists.

"I totally disagree with her (Rice)," Musharraf said. "The emergency is to ensure elections go in an undisturbed manner." He said the decree was justified because the apex court had meddled in politics, specifically the validity of his re-election, and because of a serious threat from terrorists.

Musharraf, who came to power in a bloodless coup in 1999, also refused to say when he would step down as army chief and become a civilian president.



Bhutto's plan for her party to take a "caravan" across Punjab was "a preposterous thing to do", Musharraf said.

He questioned Bhutto's popularity and, at one point, scanned an op-ed article she recently wrote for The New York Times that he had brought with him to the interview.

In reaction to her claim that she would sweep the election, Musharraf said: "Let's start the elections and let's see whether she wins.

"Constitutionally today she has been prime minister twice, what about the third time? She is not legally allowed, she is not constitutionally allowed. Why are we taking things for granted?"

Musharraf earlier passed a law barring a prime minister serving more than two terms.

He rejected an appeal by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to lift the emergency that led to the suspension of the Constitution, dismissal of Supreme Court judges and arrests of thousands of opposition party workers, lawyers and human rights activists.

"I totally disagree with her (Rice)," Musharraf said. "The emergency is to ensure elections go in an undisturbed manner." He said the decree was justified because the apex court had meddled in politics, specifically the validity of his re-election, and because of a serious threat from terrorists.

Musharraf, who came to power in a bloodless coup in 1999, also refused to say when he would step down as army chief and become a civilian president.

The General, who has received USD 10 billion from the US administration, most of it for the military, asked for even more support, and more patience. He said the Pakistan Army had limited resources in taking on terrorists.

"Ten days back, of 20 Cobra helicopters, we have only one that was serviceable," he said. "We need more support."

The Cobra gunships were supplied by the US for the Pakistan Army's campaign against Taliban and al-Qaeda elements in areas bordering Afghanistan.

Musharraf said the army had regrouped in North and South Waziristan, where the force faced the strongest challenge from militants whom he called a "vicious enemy".

"Now wherever the disturbance, we will strike very, very strongly," he said.

He said nearly a dozen independent television news channels that had been closed under the emergency would be allowed to re-open if they agreed to a government code of conduct.

Asked why human rights activist Asma Jehangir, who heads the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, was arrested when she attended a meeting at the commission's headquarters on the first day of the emergency, Musharraf replied, "Because she was agitating and trying to disturb the peace."

He called Jehangir, one of Pakistan's first women lawyers, "quite an unbalanced character" and criticised her for being too ambitious in her agenda to achieve better rights for women.