DUBAI, April 16: Former president and army chief Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf has expressed his desire to sort out his differences with PML-N chief Mian Nawaz Sharif. “I would not mind if it happens for the good future of the country,” he said in reply to a question in an interview with DawnNews from Dubai. He said he had not phoned Mr Sharif to enquire about his health because his heart and mind did not allow him to do so in view of some statements by PML-N leaders.
When asked about warrants issued against him by an anti-terrorism court of Rawalpindi, Gen (retd) Musharraf declined to comment on “these technical, legal questions”.
He said he would definitely return to Pakistan and did not fear going to jail, but “I am waiting for the proper time”.
In reply to a question about a petition filed by former president Rafiq Tarar for withdrawal of Gen Musharraf’s titles of president and other posts, he said Mr Tarar was an “irrelevant person”.
He disclosed that when he was in power he had good relations with Mr Tarar and had asked him to continue serving as president.
Gen (retd) Musharraf said he had helped Mr Tarar and visited his home when he was president.
“Mr Tarar, who was actually a man of Mian Nawaz Sharif and his father, had played a key role in purchasing the loyalties of judges when Justice Sajad Ali Shah was the chief justice of Pakistan.” In reply to a question about Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, he said that if he (Justice Iftikhar) could not hear cases against him, he should refer them to other judges.
Pervez Musharraf said he had no regrets over the military coup of Oct 12, 1999, and the unconstitutional steps taken on Nov 3, 2007. “It was my good luck that the coup happened.”
When reminded that the Constitution had been abrogated on both occasions, he said the country was more important than the Constitution, which, according to him, was a piece of paper.
Pervez Musharraf said he had appointed Senator Mushahid Hussain as secretary general of the PML-Q after consulting Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. He said the PML-Q had virtually fallen apart and most of its leaders would not contest the next elections from its platform. Many of them had contacted him and some were considering contesting elections as independent candidates, he said.
The former president admitted that setting up a new party without the help of government and intelligence agencies was a difficult job.
He said he had written letters to the former nazims of all districts, inviting them to join his party and had received a good response.
When asked if his handpicked army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was in touch with him, he replied in the negative.
In reply to a question whether Gen Kayani had contacted him when he was named in the Benazir Bhutto murder case, Gen (retd) Musharraf said: “These contacts are often made.” However, he avoided giving details.
He also avoided commenting on the extension granted to the army chief.
However, Gen (retd) Musharraf said that during his tenure he had a vice-chief of the army staff who used to run the affairs of the army. In today’s environment there was no need for the appointment of a VCOAS, he said.
About Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Pervez Musharraf said he liked him. “He is a nice man for Pakistan.”
Asked to name his favourite Pakistani leader, he quipped: “I, myself” and, after a pause, named former president Ayub Khan.