Freer army means fewer terrorists: Musharraf

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Former president favours interim govt solution for much-needed reforms, says will back govt if ‘their words are supported by real actions against terrorism’

Terming the Peshawar tragedy an eye opener for everyone, former president Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf has supported giving a free hand to the Pakistan Army for dealing with the menace of terrorism.

In an interview with a TV channel, the former army chief said that so far the army’s role has been praiseworthy in fighting terrorism and if the actions of the government supported its words then it would be welcomed by everyone.

He referred to the statement issued by the government leaders that terrorists would be chased across the country, including Balochistan, and said that it was a good move. He further asserted that action should be taken against elements that indulge in sectarian violence.

Musharraf said that action should also be taken against mosques and madrassas that are being used as storage areas for weaponry and providing sanctuaries to terrorists. He said he was shocked over the attack that took place in Peshawar. He was also angered over the acts of the terrorists who seemed more like beasts than men.

The former president supported the formation of an interim government to handle these difficult issues and introduce much needed reforms. He said that although Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has achieved a lot through his sit-ins and public meetings, he should also see whether he can realistically achieve everything he has set out to through a solo flight.

He reiterated the need for a third political force in the country saying that both PPP and PML-N have ruled the country three or four times each and failed the nation. He said all political leaders, big or small, and particularly the Muslim Leaguers, should sit on a joint platform to form the third political force.

When asked if he was expecting a treason trial on his return home, he said that he was not sure that such a case will be initiated by the government though he expected that other cases would be framed against him. He asked how a person can be termed a traitor when he has commanded the Pakistan army and fought in the mountains for the country. He said he was happy that many politicians opposed the use of word treason.

The former president avoided giving a direct answer to any questions relating to the army’s support for him. However, he said that he had once led the army from the front and had full confidence in the army, along with the personnel who had been with him in varying capacities.

Musharraf also spoke about his association with the present COAS General Raheel Sharif. The former COAS said that his brother Shaheed Shabbir Sharif had been a course mate and he had met his father several time during annual get-togethers of army.

When asked if he felt any embarrassment while appearing before the courts, Musharraf said that it had been a bit uncomfortable in the beginning. However, he soon overcame his apprehensions as he realized that he was appearing before an institution, and that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law.

Musharraf also addressed comments made by former Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar where he had claimed that Musharraf wanted to dissolve the assembly. The former President said these allegations were baseless and absolutely wrong. He said he had resigned because he did not want to be a useless and toothless President. He further questioned why he should have dissolved the assembly when he knew that his popularity was going to dwindle by doing so.