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Pak is doomed if Musharraf is back in power: Imran
Suman Guha Mozumder in New York | January 26, 2008 10:38 IST
Cricket legend-turned politician Imran Khan [Images] on Friday said that Pakistan is doomed for the next five years of dictatorship if President Pervez Musharraf [Images] comes back to power after the election slated for February 18.
Criticising Musharraf in strongest terms for allegedly usurping military powers before relinquishing the post of the chief of the army staff, Khan said although over 70 per cent of the people in Pakistan do not wish to see him at the helm of affairs, the country's misery would perpetuate if he comes back.
"If he gets away with the elections -- and the chances are 50-50 -- then our country is doomed for another phase of dictatorship, and I do not think the people of Pakistan are in a position to sustain five more years of Musharraf regime because there are serious problems," Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Party (Movement for Justice), said at a breakfast meeting organised by the Asia Society in collaboration with the South Asian Johannists Association on Friday morning.
Addressing a sold-out audience at the Asia Society, Khan spoke about the dire political situation in Pakistan thanks to Musharraf and the urgent need for democratic governance.
He said that while Pakistan started off fighting the US war on terror 'basically to protect American lives' in the aftermath of 9/11, now there are concerns in Pakistan whether terrorism will destroy Pakistan itself.
Khan faulted Musharraf for the state of affairs.
In a speech laced with sarcasm and humour, Khan said that the blame for the current state of affairs should be laid at the door of Musharraf because of the way the war on terrorism is being fought and the bombing and killing of innocent people by the military in places like Warizisthan, Baluchistan and in tribal areas elsewhere.
In many of these places, the resistance of the local people is inspired by military action in the name of catching terrorists that have killed hundreds of innocent people.
"It is in reaction (to this) that people are fighting the army. Even those who are not fighting, have sympathies with the other side not because they are Taliban or Al Qaeda [Images] members or anything, but because they oppose the army," Khan said.
Quoting from Karen Armstrong's book The Battle For God, Khan said that whenever fundamentalists, which he clarified are different from terrorists, are suppressed they always turn violent.
"Fundamentalists exist everywhere, you have them in the US," Khan said adding, that tackling fundamentalism needs a different approach that Musharraf, as a military leader, singularly lacks.
He said had there been a democratic government in Pakistan, the problem of terrorism facing the country today would have been tackled much better. "Politicians would have dealt with it much better because they believe in dialogue, talking, convincing whereas military generals believe in bombing," he said amidst laughter.
"Because of this situation, we have got into a serious mess," he said. Khan also said that military generals because of their training and thinking process are not fit to lead a country.
"They do much better when you tell them 'go and bomb a hill'," he said sparking guffaws.
Khan said due to Musharraf's rule he is certain the upcoming elections will have the lowest voter turnout in the country's history.
Khan put forth a forceful argument that the true battle in Pakistan is not between conservatives and liberals, but between the status quo and change, positioning himself as an agent for this much-needed change.
Khan's overarching theme was the importance of good governance in paving the way for a democratic future in Pakistan.
Specifically, he stressed the need for rule of law, checks and balances, and a functioning judiciary as prerequisites from which all other challenges such as poverty and fundamentalism can then be tackled.
In response to a question as to why his party has decided not to take part in the coming elections, Khan said that it was futile under the current regime.
"Holding elections is not the true measure of democracy unless there is an independent judiciary to monitor it," he said.
"Elections do not necessarily reflect democracy unless there is an independent judiciary to monitor the process and the results. And without that in Pakistan, what is the point in taking part in elections?" he asked.