Musharraf at the India Today Conclave 2009

The video of the discussion in its entirety, which consists of Aroon Purie’s introductory speech, Musharraf’s keynote speech, and the subsequent extensive Q & A session can be seen here:

All the video clips of Musharraf’s talks and interviews in India can also be accessed here.

The above contains a far more extensive Q & A session compared to the earlier posted transcript.

The full transcript of Musharraf’s speech can be read here (together with Purie’s introduction)

Some interesting points from the the Q & A:

Musharraf claimed that there is far more hostility towards Pakistan in India, even war hysteria, than there is hostility towards India within Pakistan. Musharraf mentioned how there was little or no India bashing during Pakistan’s recent election. I agree with this after following a number of Indian news channels for a while, particularly after the Mumbai terrorist attack. Literally from the first few hours into the Mumbai attack the Indian media began its massive anti-Pakistan propaganda campaign. (The hostility can also be seen in the comments we find on the India Today website. For example, consider Prabhu Chawla’s comments here, where Musharraf is labeled a “sworn enemy.” This is the same Prabhu who complained in his interview with Musharraf as to why the latter referred to India as an “enemy” in his book. Showing his duplicity, Prabhu also boasts about letting Musharraf “expose himself.” See also this, this, and this, for example).

Farooq Abdullah acknowledged that the closest the two countries ever came towards resolving the Kashmir dispute was under Musharraf. He said he really believed that the Kashmir dispute would be sorted out under Musharraf and testified for the former President’s sincerity.

An Indian Muslim, Maulana Mahmood Madani, (Rajya Sabha Member and former General Secretary of Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind) displayed much hostility and rudeness towards Musharraf. It was shameful to see a maulana behaving in this un-Islamic manner, throwing in the bin basic Islamic etiquette. Musharraf, however, hit back with a fitting and sharp reply much to Madani’s annoyance. This can be seen in clip no. 12 in the Q & A session.

I suppose there is more pressure upon Indian Muslims who go out of their way to “prove” their nationalism and support for India.

Near the end, one Irshad Manji asked Musharraf about honor killings. Manji is a lesbian (see “A Muslim calls for reform — and she’s a lesbian“) Canadian feminist, a known Islamophobe hate-monger, and author of the book “The Trouble with Islam” (later renamed: “The Trouble with Islam Today“). Manji claims that the Quran is a “bundle of contradictions” and refers to the supposed “blatant inconsistencies” therein (See Irshad Manji, The Trouble with Islam: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith, 2004, First Edition, St. Martin’s Press, p. 36).

[See also “Irshad Manji on the Qur’an” and “The Trouble with Irshad” by Elvan Zelda Elcin]

Besides advocating homosexuality and arguing that it is not contrary to the Quran (see this for instance) , Manji is also a vocal Israeli propagandist (see M. Junaid Levesque-Alam’s, “Why Liberals Fear Islam: The Only Good Muslim is the Anti-Muslim“).

To quote Levesque Alam:

The Trouble With Islam Today is an unhinged polemic that derides Muslims and demeans their faith.

Musharraf obviously did not know about Manji and expressed his willingness to sit down with her and discuss honor killings etc. I hope someone can inform the President about this character and advice him to stay away from her.

There was a lot of hostility towards Musharraf while the questions were being fired. He was also interrupted at times. But he stood strong, confident and gave clear cut replies and refutations, defending the army and the I.S.I.

Moverover, while Musharraf was eager to discuss core issues of tension such as Kashmir and the emerging water dispute between the two countries, Indians seemed more interested to discuss the alleged presence of Dawood Ibrahim in Pakistan (Karachi) and his handover! While for Pakistan the Kashmir dispute and the emerging water dispute are the core issues of real tension between the two countries, it seems to me that the Indians seriously believe that the actual core dispute is Ibrahim and that all will be fine and dandy between the two countries once Pakistan returned Ibrahim to India! Musharraf said that he did not know if Ibrahim was present in Pakistan and rightly continued that even if this was true, tensions between the two countries would persist even after Ibrahim’s handover. The stiff Indian resistance to take into account the whole picture and to discuss the real pressing issues and, instead, to focus on minor peripheral matters, the resolution of which would do nothing much to seriously ease relations between the two countries in the long run, is an indication of the desperation and shoddy nature of the Indian position.

Musharraf’s overarching theme was to press the point that both India and Pakistan had engaged in unfortunate activities in the past to harm each other. He argued we needed to move forward and stop dwelling in the past, constantly accusing each other of past misdeeds. He also strongly pressed the argument that the Pakistan Army and the I.S.I. were not playing any “double game” and were fully committed in fighting terrorism and extremism. Musharraf requested the Indians to stop blaming the Pakistan Army and the I.S.I. and to put an end to their propaganda campaign. Moreover, he also discussed the Indian involvement in terrorist activities in Afghanistan against Pakistan and their support for known terrorist individuals.
Musharraf Q & A Transcript of Delhi LectureI would like to thank Saroor Zaidi (’Friends of Pakistan‘) for putting together this transcript of the Q & A session between Musharraf and various Indian personalities.

In the words of Saroor, “an amazing confident Musharraf has stood tall and proud, and represented Pakistan to the fullest capacity with dignity and power.”

There is no one in Pakistan who can represent the nation in this brave manner amidst an ocean of hostility. Unlike others, who love to make a statement or two against Pakistan while in India, Musharraf uttered not a word against Pakistan. Instead, he defended Pakistan with all his might in an unapologetic manner. This shows how bigger man Musharraf is than all of our politicians combined.

All Pakistanis, including those who may not agree with his policies, are proud of Musharraf.


Arun Poorie: You are here as a messenger of peace. What did you do about it in the nine years when you were in power?

Musharraf: Let’s stop the blame game. We need to look at the reality, forget the past and look ahead. I don’t know what I did wrong, but I can tell you I tried my best for peace between India and Pakistan. I was never negative when the opportunity for peace came to me.

Arun Poorie: What plans do you have about the future?

Musharraf: To me, the core issue is building confidence by greater people-to-people affinity. Once the confidence is there, we should move towards resolving the core issues, and stop meddling with the internal affairs of each other’s country.

Arun Poorie: What do you have to say about what happened on 26/11 in Mumbai?

Musharraf: Let’s stop the war hysteria. Just a day into the investigations, the Pakistani army and the ISI was blamed for it. I am for a considered and matured response to these issues. As far as the investigations are concerned, the Pakistani government should fully cooperate and the guilty should be punished.

Arun Poorie: Are there any terrorist camps in Pakistan?

Musharraf: See we have done damage to each other. I am aware of what the Indian embassy is doing in Jalalabad and Kandahar. A terrorist from Kabul has been received by Indian intelligence agencies in India and looked after. I have documents to show this. Let us stop the blame game. India is a big country. You try to do damage to us, we will do damage to you. We should address the trust deficit between the two countries. The ISI does the same thing as the RAW does. There is no distinction.

Ravi Shankar Prasad: In the face of the present situation, do you see Taliban taking over Pakistan?

Musharraf: Areas in the North West Frontier [Province] where the problem is, account for less then one percent of the population. There is no danger of Taliban taking over Pakistan politically.

Arun Poorie: What specific confidence-building measures do you have for the future?

Musharraf: We need to look at strategic issues. We will have to address the water issue which would develop into a new conflict between the nations. We have to stick to the Indus Valley treaty.

Soli Sorabjee: Will you hand over Dawood Ibrahim to us as a confidence building measure?

Musharraf: This is a small issue. I do not know if he is there. I too have a long list of people that India needs to give us. The role of Indian embassy in Afghanistan in Jalalabad and Kandahar is not good either.

Individuals are a small issue. We need to look at strategic issues. I do not think handing over Dawood will change anything. I know it will not help in easing tensions between the two nations, if that happens then you will have to hand over Dawood back to Pakistan (laughs).

Rahul Kanwal: A conversation of Gen Kayani, the army chief who succeeded you, has been intercepted where he said Taliban is a ‘strategic asset’?

Musharraf: This is a lie. He cannot say that. I challenge them to show me the proof. It is a lie.

Amar Singh: When our (then) PM Vajpayee travelled to Lahore by bus to Lahore for friendship, Kargil happened. Now you say you are for peace?

Musharraf: I would not like to comment on this issue. I have dealt with this matter in my book.

Shekhar Gupta: Compare your years in power with that of Ziaul Haq.

Musharraf: The comparison cannot be done as the situation and ground realities were very different in both times. You must understand that Pakistan is not the perpetuator of terror but a victim of terror in the last 30 years.

Question: How is it to live in Pakistan and not be in charge?

Musharraf: It’s good. I am relaxed. The most difficult job was to take decisions in highly complex situations. Now I read about them in the papers.

General VP Malik: What are the chances of the army taking over Pakistan again? How can India help Pakistan in its problems?

Musharraf: It is the internal matter of Pakistan. The political leadership can deal with the situation. I would not like to comment on that. India can help Pakistan by not maligning Pakistani army and the ISI in the world.


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