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‘Americans to attack Fata if Musharraf steps down’

April 07, 2008

LAHORE, April 6: President Pervez Musharraf thinks that if he steps down as head of state the United States will go for direct military attacks on tribal areas and will also take away Dr A. Q. Khan for interrogation.

Official sources told Dawn on Sunday that the president was also of the view that Gwadar port project would be adversely affected if he left the scene and consequently the country’s time-tested relations with China could suffer a setback.

Similarly, the president believes that in his absence no leader or party will be able to maintain cordial relations with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement.

In view of the likely negative fallout, the sources said, the president had no intention to quit the post to which he had been elected for five years.

Moreover, they claimed the president’s decision to stay in office was more in the ‘national interests’ than in his own.

The sources said it was President Musharraf who was keeping the United States away from Dr Khan.

They said the US had been seeking access to the nuclear scientist for interrogation but it was the president who resisted all pressures and kept Dr Khan in a safe custody at home.

It was also because of Pesident Musharraf’s strong personal links with US President George Bush, the sources claimed, that the US was not attacking tribal areas. However, they said, the situation would change if the president resigned.

The sources said the US and many other countries were opposed to the deep-sea Gwadar port project and they did not like to see it functional mainly because of China’s role in the project.

President Musharraf, the sources claimed, was determined to get the project completed without any foreign interference. In case Pakistan gave in to foreign pressures, its relations with China would be adversely affected.

The sources said the MQM had brought about a positive change in its outlook and role in national issues because of the behind-the-scenes role played by President Musharraf.

It was because of the president’s influence that the MQM was supporting the PPP in Sindh, they said, adding that no party or leader would have such relations with the MQM as the president.

The sources also said the president had been keeping a low profile for a few weeks under advice from his friends in the establishment.

They claimed that political developments were taking place in accordance with the president’s calculations and nothing ‘unexpected’ had happened so far.

According to sources the ‘worst’ was over and the situation will soon take a favourable turn for the president.

“Thus, there is no possibility of the president stepping down the demands or the wishes of his adversaries notwithstanding.”