KARACHI: In an interview with a private TV channel on late Tuesday night, former president general (retd) Pervez Musharraf supported the demand for ‘change’ and stressed the United States must not interfere in Pakistan's internal politics. His remarks come at a time when many have been speculating that the military is involved in the prevailing political crisis.
Musharraf said that ‘change must come before elections’.
The former president said that he has never seen protests as large and continuous as the ones currently being held in Islamabad.
“Tahirul Qadri is asking for change. Imran Khan is asking for the audit of ballot papers, fair elections,” he said.
He said: “Elections are not possible at the moment in my estimate.”
The former military ruler said that corruption, nepotism, terrorism, tanking economy and no access to justice are some of the problems affecting Pakistan.
“People are not getting justice,” he opined.
“There is no doubt that there was rigging in the elections. People will come out into streets if there is no justice and no improvement in people’s lives,” he stressed.
He further said that all levels of Pakistani society are represented in these protests.
“People are asking for change,” said Musharraf.
"Protests like this have never happened before, over such a long period and with such vigour...The public is exercising its democratic right by protesting," Musharraf said.
"The people’s legitimate demands are not being made...This is democratic public mobilisation,” he said.
On democracy, the former dictator said: “I am a strong believer in democracy, genuine democracy. This is not real democracy. Real democracy is how you perform after being elected.”
"You have to bring about socio-economic development. Democracy is not an end by itself. It is a means to an end, which is the welfare of the masses," he said.
The former army chief said that Pakistan is not Iraq, adding: “As long as the Army is playing its role in stabilizing the country, (there is) no chance of the country breaking. Nobody should have any doubt on the Army’s ability to defend the country and keep it together.”
In the latter half of the TV interview, Musharraf went on to add: “No individual matters, it’s the state of Pakistan that matters. We need to rise above our difference and make decisions in national interest,”
"We need reforms and change before going for another election," he stressed.