Former President of Pakistan General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf.—File Photo

KARACHI: Pakistan’s intelligence agencies were told by former President Pervez Musharraf to “stay away” from politics and stop their interference in the country’s political affairs, the former president said in an interview.

Former President and Chief of Army Staff General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf told the BBC that he had directed then Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt-Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani – who is now the current Army chief – that his institution’s interference in politics should end.

However, Musharraf added that the directions were only verbal and not written.

“This wasn’t a formal order; but we had decided that the ISI will not interfere in the political playground,” the BBCUrdu quoted Musharraf as saying.

The former Army chief added that this was the reason that there was no rigging or intervention during the 2008 elections, and neither did any such complaints arise.

About the Asghar Khan case, Musharraf said that it was creating a rift between state institutions, which was problematic for Pakistan. He said that we were creating problems for ourselves by staying in the past.

Musharraf added that if he did have to travel back into the past, then the cases of East Pakistan’s separation, Ayub Khan and even Liaquat Ali Khan’s assassination should also be reopened. He said that we should focus on the present and the future instead of the past.

The former president added that it appeared as if the military men were being targeted.

“In my opinion, a conspiracy is being brewed to weaken Pakistan because the Army holds a central role in Pakistan and if it is weakened then the state is also weakened,” said Musharraf.

On the topic of US drone strikes in Pakistan, the former Army chief said that there was no written or verbal agreement with the US.

“I had good relations with President Bush and Colin Powell, and if an attack did happen I could call them directly to inquire and object. This was because I had good relations and was on good terms with them. But I think there is a lack of communication now which is the reason for so many strikes and deaths,” he said.

Musharraf said that his plan of returning to Pakistan this January was postponed due to the situation. However, he added that would return to the country and contest polls once an interim government is set in place.