“THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH INTELLECTUAL DIFFERENCES FLOWING FROM FREEDOM OF THOUGHT AS LONG AS SUCH DIFFERENCES REMAIN CONFINED TO INTELLECTUAL DEBATES”.
BM: You served the Pakistan Army for 8 years, was joining army your own decision or someone’s advice?
PM: We were three brothers among whom I was the youngest; my mother was a woman of strong personality. She used to tell me that I would go in the army; my elder brothers were very capable and literate. He spent a lot of time serving the district of KPK. He was working under Hayat Sherpao as Director Army and when the district was facing the scarcity of flour and sugar he was also appointed AC of Naushera. Regarding this brother of mine my mother always used to say he would do CSP. My other brother was very emotional and wanted to do something for Pakistan, for him my mother used to say he would become a doctor. For me my mother used to say that I was a very brave boy and I would go in the army on the other hand my father’s friends from army used to visit him often, their uniform used to fascinate me a lot so since the start going into the army was my personal interest.
BM:In the war of 1965 which mission were you on?
PM: I was leading almost all important missions. I was a part of the armor division and in those days there was only one of them. Firstly, we went to khaim khel; we went ahead from kasur till baltwa. Before our arrival the Indians had already fled the fortress and all houses were empty. Then when the enemies were on the verge of dominating Lahore we were called there we were deployed from the Barki sector. After which the Indians attacked Sialkot so we had to rush there.
BM: Where were you in the war of 1971?
PM: In the war of 1971 I was the company commander of SSG. During this duration a new company was established. We were going to East Pakistan but the flights were suspended and this way we could not complete our journey. In these days a strike force was made in the stay of General Tika khan. Our company was also made a part of this strike force and was sent to Sahiwal. It was a huge strike force.
PM: As I told you before we were focused on Islamic works we were ready to go this was a golden chance to represent ourselves on Indian land. See! India only had one force if they attacked west Pakistan they would have to send their 8 division army to east Pakistan, only then they would have been able to attack us as you need at least 3% more force than the opponent but India sent all its force to east Pakistan and to reach the west it would take a lot of time in the mean while we could have easily took over so much area of India that we could have come under an agreement with them. Anyways we were in Islamic works when we heard about this news over the radio and later we were also informed about this officially. It was a hard to break the news-which I broke to the company. The whole company was called and informed that no operation was going to be executed, there had been ceasefire, the war had ended and we had surrendered after breaking this news I burst into tears.
BM: In the matter of Sakoot Dhaka, who do you hold responsible? Yahya, Mujeeb or Bhutto?
PM: (With a smile) This is a very difficult question; in my point of view I hold all three responsible. All three of them made mistakes if you see Yahya Khans era as a president, we see a lot of weaknesses because of which governance was being affected, and people had a low morale.
Sheikh Mujeeb used the Bengalis; the West Pakistan was given importance and the people were being provoked. I myself am a witness of one of his jalsas; he was very passionate and was the center of attention of a huge crowd. Now that we talk about Bhutto he should have given Sheikh Mujeeb a chance of running the government he should have never said that personal space should be maintained.
“REMEMBER THAT MINDSETS CAN’T BE CHANGED THROUGH FORCE AND COERCION. NO IDEA CAN EVER BE FORCIBLY THRUST UPON ANY ONE”.
BM: It is said that whoever comes to govern us we lose a state in the process, Ayub Khan gave three rivers to India, Yahya Khan gave half the country and General Zia gave Siachen. Are these all weaknesses?
PM: I do not agree to this, the separation of East Pakistan has a lot of reasons behind it Yahya cannot be held responsible a lot of people were a part of it. Siachen is not a big issue we should see what the leaders’ responsibility is. The prosperity and progress of the country is the actual responsibility of the leader. If we see the prosperity then to remove poverty, provide employment and to provide education and health services to all is not a very big task. Thus we should look at the socio economic sector as to where we are heading and on the basis of that we should decide the level of success of the leader. If in the reign of Ayub khan three rivers were given to India we should not ignore Ayub Khans other good decisions. It is said that it is easy to deal with Army representatives that is why America showers them with dollars that is the reason the country prospers under their reign. Utterly wrong! we people know how to speak, we understand ourselves. We are straightforward. When you go out and people speak to you, you should know what interest they have in you and your importance but if you go and portray yourself as weak you will not be able to attain anything. We should talk with confidence because if people need you they will come. India and America are taking Pakistan under consideration because Pakistan is the only route of trade nearby.
BM: Did you really appoint any representative and put him on a mission for The border line by Hamid Karzai?
PM: No! I never appointed anyone. If they make any statement like this they are making it on their own. Why would I appoint someone? Can I not talk to them myself? Plus to talk and bring them under pressure a lot of people were already present. I did not appoint Asfand Yar Wali for any such mission.
BM: You joined hands with India to make things better through track to diplomacy; on the other hand this did not result in your favor. Were you also unsuccessful in understanding the nature of India?
PM: There is nothing like this, I understand India’s nature very well and everything was going in our favour. I informed Wajpai and Manmohan Singh that if we want to resolve issues we need to step ahead and collaborated socio economically and for this we need to have three qualities. First is our dedication, no hypocrisy is allowed. If we our dedicated wholly all issues are resolved. The other thing is about interest if we are uninterested then how will things fall into place? We all are on the same position since 1948 and if we stay fixed at it we will not progress, only with flexibility will we find another way and you also need patience and strength because whatever way we find will be not upto the mark. We cannot expect them to give us everything and neither can we give them everything, so we need to find a middle way where we will give them half and take half. If you cannot face this then there is no reason to go ahead. We had the stamina but what happened was that I went to India in 2006, In 2007 Manmohan Singh was supposed to come but he did not although we had an agreement that he was ready to sign.
In the issue of Siachen I gave two options either to take out both forces and head them towards another line which meant we could have half of it and it could be declared a no go area permanently or else give the area under the supervision of both. Manmohan Singh said that he would agree to anything I implemented. We both agreed to sign the Siachen agreement but when it came to the Kashmir issue it was not easy. Nobody knew what would be the result.
BM: You met Umar Abdullah, what was his feedback?
PM: I met Umar Abdullah secretly in Britain in the meeting I told him that we try to give Kashmiris as much as self-governance as possible, he told me that his ancestors also had the same vision. I tried to inquire what self-governance was in his eyes and found out that we were on the same page. He further added that we need to provide them with independence, freedom of judiciary and election commission alongside self-governance.
“THOSE WHO KILLED CHILDREN IN APS PESHAWAR ATTACK ARE ANIMALS”.
BM: Did you really ask for a resignation in your meeting with Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary?
PM: Yes I did for sure as I did not want the disrespect of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, I told him that a reference has come against him and if it went to the judiciary matters will not be discrete anymore and Supreme Court will be insulted. Reference had been drafted by Minister of law and affairs and was sent to me by the Prime Minister.
BM: Every Army representative starts to take the help of some political party, you did so too. Why?
PM: If you see my condition I was hopeless either I would have to go to the Supreme Court to ask for more time of 2-5 years but I did not want to do anything as such. My decision was that in 2002 I would opt for elections and the bigger parties at that time were Peoples Party and Muslim League (N), PTI had not formed at that time. I wanted new leadership to come forth in all parties but this did not happen then I thought that if any of these parties won what would be my position in the government? I had to do a lot for this country so thought of making a new political party named league (Q).
BM: We did a truce with America but on the other hand Afghanistan became the target of Indian treachery. Is this not a failure of your government?
PM: Where it comes to truce with America we gave their flights a selected route and as you can see since 1947 Afghanistan has been opposing us. Then we can see that terrorism also routed from Afghanistan but we should keep in mind that since a large number of Pukhtoon live in Afghanistan they should have had more shares in the government but this did not happen all Afghani leaders were involved with India.
BM: The debate is still the same, was it not your failure?
PM: See! At that time we could not do anything. These are those matters in which international conflicts occur. We need to see how much influence America has on India and then again on us too. I told Hamid Karzai a lot of times that a person residing in your country needs to be arrested and handed over to us but he used to go in denial and tell me that he did not know where he was. I told him that i can give him the address just arrest him and hand him over. He on the other hand played games with us, though he lived in Pakistan only but he has been a loss to us. He should look at the political influence too we have a long border with Afghanistan. People stay in touch though India does not even have a border there but it came under its influence
BM: In General Zias time we did a truce with America, in the eyes of a lot of people Pakistan took benefit from this but instead in your reign we faced a lot of losses- what is the reason?
PM: Both the truces had their own benefits. In zias time America and Pakistan had the same motives. Pakistan’s security was under objection so we had to remove Russia from Afghanistan. It was America’s strategy to stop communism, even Afghanistan was in the interest of removing liberal people from its state thus we went in a state of Jihad. Then came the year 1990, you can see the changing conditions thus Al-Qaida was made and Afghanistan was destroyed. Then occurred 9/11 after which a new era started and every country of the world was sympathizing with America thus Pakistan could not oppose it.
BM: Are you in the favor of good and bad extremists?
PM: As long as afghan Taliban are concerned we do not have any problem with them, our problem is Pakistans Taliban as they are in contact with them, which causes problems for us. Later on Kashmiri Taliban also entered in Pakistan which created serious problems for us. I was attacked by Rawalakoot Taliban. Previously we were in terms with Taliban but later on problems and confusions started.
“GOING INTO THE PAKISTAN ARMY WAS MY DREAM SINCE CHILDHOOD”.
BM: Ashraf Ghani, Hamid Karzai, Terrorist and the frontier unity have great influence over Afghanistan, who do you consider to be a friend of Pakistan?
PM: First of all we should stay away from Afghanistan but if they do something against us in Afghanistan we will for sure answer them. I have told President Bush and Hamid Karzai to stop planning things against us or else we will take strict action.
BM: These days the future of FATA is under supervision, are you in their favor?
PM: In my opinion the number of provinces in Pakistan should be increased. If the provinces are smaller the federation is stronger. Now see that Baluchistan is such a big province coming till Quetta is such a hard task for people thus there should be more provinces. As far as FATA is considered it should not be a new Province as their geographical location is not as such but a lot of large provinces can be divided and it would be better for the country.