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Benazir accuses Musharraf of undermining security

September 30, 2006

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ISLAMABAD, Sept 29: In a hard-hitting attack on President Pervez Musharraf’s book, In the Line of Fire, former prime minister Bhutto has described the memoirs as a cheap attempt to gain popularity at the cost of Pakistan’s vital national interests.

In a statement issued on Friday, she said it was regrettable that General Musharraf was abusing his official position to boost his personal interests. Millions of rupees from the state exchequer were spent on financing the visit to the United States, which virtually became a publicity tour of his book. “It is unprecedented that a head of state spends three weeks along with an entourage of more than 60 people on a personal publicity trip. The military ruler must account for the precious public money being used to finance a book launch,” she added.

Benazir said it was even more regrettable that the general was undermining Pakistan to peddle his memoirs. “By leaking secret and classified information about issues of national interest, General Musharraf stands accused of violating the Official Secrets Act. No serving army chief is permitted to speak on these matters while on job. By violating the Official Secrets Act, General Musharraf is jeopardising Pakistan’s national security.

“General Musharraf’s memoirs are a sad and poignant reminder of the damage that military rule has inflicted on Pakistan. His admission of creating the ruling king’s party … is an open defiance of the oath he has taken as a military officer and as an army chief, which prevents him from interfering in political matters. Such gross violation of the Constitution by successive military rulers has endangered the very existence of Pakistan. It is ironical to see that Pakistan’s military generals are quick to surrender under foreign pressure, but are defiant in opposing any submission to civilian authorities.”

The former prime minister severely criticised the president for his remarks against the late Z.A. Bhutto. “It is a disgrace to see General Musharraf’s criticising in his book Pakistan’s first popularly-elected prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Bhutto is not dependent on memoirs of unpopular military generals ... (He) remains in the heartbeat of Pakistan’s people.

“He restored the respectability of a broken Pakistan and its fallen army by uniting the country through a constitution and developing a nuclear deterrent.”

She said that military generals should not forget Bhutto’s services. “Instead of blaming Pakistan’s dismemberment on Z.A. Bhutto, General Musharraf is well advised to focus on the Ayub and Yahya dictatorships that sowed the seeds of division,” she said.