Pakistan’s ex-military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who calls himself “a born optimist”, says he plans to return to Islamabad to enter politics for the “greater cause” of the country, where the leadership has “failed.”
“I am very comfortable travelling around the world on lectures, but I am going into politics for the greater cause of Pakistan,” Musharraf told The Sunday Telegraph.
“The people have reached the end of their hopes and I want to try to rekindle their faith in both themselves and Pakistan itself. It would be better to try and fail rather than not to try at all.”
The former general, who has been living here since stepping down in 2008, is launching his own political party — the All Pakistan Muslim League.
The party, which will have its manifesto launch here on Friday, will be aiming for nothing less than to “change the political culture” of Pakistan, where last month’s devastating floods have affected over 20 million people.
While declining to comment on the civilian administration of President Asif Ali Zardari, Musharraf said “there is a lot of disappointment among the people over the way the flood relief was tackled.”
“What is required is unity of thought and action between three elements: the political forces, the army and the bureaucracy. They need an individual who can get them to think and act alike.”
He said “personally, I never saw myself as a dictator, even though people called me that, but now when I come back I will be a politician on normal terms.
“I am also a born optimist, which helps. We have everything going in Pakistan — the failure is only of leadership, not the people.”
Mr. Musharraf was also vocal on the military challenges in neighbouring Afghanistan, saying the escalating body-count of British, U.S. and other NATO soldiers should be no excuse for an early pullout.
U.S.-led plans to start drawing down troops by the middle of next year would, he warned, lead to the region becoming a “nexus for terrorists” all over the Muslim world.
“I am not trying to portray a doomsday scenario unnecessarily, but the implications would be very serious for Afghanistan, Pakistan and the rest of the world,” he said.
“It would encourage and strengthen the Taliban and al-Qaeda, giving them a country to fall back on. Quitting cannot be time related, it has to be effect related.”
Commenting on the recent killing of Imran Farooq, the exiled leader of Pakistan’s MQM party, Musharraf said “it is terrible that such an assassination could happen in a place like London.”