SPIEGEL: When Pakistan's rulers lose power, they traditionally get imprisoned or murdered by their rivals. Why are you founding a party to, once again, get involved in politics instead of enjoying retirement in London, which is at least a safe place?Gen. Musharraf is still bitter about Mr. Sharif. I suppose I would be to if someone tried to kill me. Mr. Sharif nearly got Gen. Musharraf killed, and his fellow passengers, when refusing to let his plane land in Pakistan. And the feeling is mutual. Mr. Sharif is no doubt peeved about his banishment from Pakistan after Gen. Musharraf seized power. It will be interesting to see how Gen. Musharraf's feud with Mr. Sharif will play out during the next election.
Musharraf: No risk, no gain. We unfortunately have a culture of vendetta and vindictiveness in Pakistan. But there is no case of corruption or fraud or anything against me at the moment. My political opponents, especially Nawaz Sharif, would love to create a case against me -- that I am corrupt or have committed fraud or some such. They do their best to achieve that, but they haven't succeeded. Even if they did, I would reply in court. Risks need to be taken.
SPIEGEL: Why did you form militant underground groups to fight India in Kashmir?Not surprising. Gen. Musharraf confirms what was long suspected. As was discovered, many of the Kashmiri "freedom fighters" weren't even Kashmiri, but Pakistani jihadist armed and trained by the Pakistani military (mostly through its intelligence agency, the ISI). Many of these jihadist now consort with the Pakistani Taliban, al-Qaeda, or some other outfit. Pakistan never learns; it likes to play with fire.
Musharraf: They were indeed formed. The government turned a blind eye because they wanted India to discuss Kashmir.
SPIEGEL: It was the Pakistani security forces that trained them.
Musharraf: The West was ignoring the resolution of the Kashmir issue, which is the core issue of Pakistan. We expected the West -- especially the United States and important countries like Germany -- to resolve the Kashmir issue. Has Germany done that?
SPIEGEL: Does that give Pakistan the right to train underground fighters?
Musharraf: Yes, it is the right of any country to promote its own interests when India is not prepared to discuss Kashmir at the United Nations and is not prepared to resolve the dispute in a peaceful manner.
SPIEGEL: And how can a nuclear arsenal be safe when high-ranking officers support proliferation or even personally profit from it, as has been alleged? The nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan claims that the Pakistani army monitored and organized deals with countries like North Korea and Iran.Attacking Dr. Khan has been modus operandi since day one, but it's mostly a smokescreen to cover Gen. Musharraf's own shady involvement. The Pakistani military not only knew exactly what was going on, they sanctioned it, with or without the approval of the government. The military, like Pakistani politicians, are kleptocrats. Officers like to line their pockets as much as the next thieving politico, and selling nuclear technology to anybody with an unyielding bank balance is par for the course. Gen. Musharraf may not have personally profited from the deals (who really knows), but he either looked the other way or condoned it. When Pakistan was caught red-handed, Dr. Khan was made a scapegoat. I'm sorry but Gen. Musharraf lacks credibility on this score.
Musharraf: That is wrong, absolutely wrong. Mr. Khan is a characterless man.
Reading the interview, Gen. Musharraf clearly shows his lack of political refinement. He still carries himself like a soldier, speaking his mind without caring what anybody thinks about him. This will be his undoing.