The Pakistani public is generally outraged at the repressive measures implemented by Gen. Musharraf, which now include forbidding the importation of satellite dishes to Pakistan. Musharraf seems to think he is dealing with Uzbekistan or something; Pakistanis are far more sophisticated than that, and Lahore can always get Indian t.v. stations– and the word spreads from there.
I even saw Musharraf on satellite television asking if “democracy is more important than the country.” Of course, as with all dictators, Musharraf is suggesting that he himself is the country. It should be pointed out that the thousands of lawyers, judges, and political party workers had been law abiding citizens and posed no threat to “the country” when Musharraf began arbitrarily arresting them.
Bhutto’s stance against Musharraf has raised the possibility of an all-parties political alliance against him, and all the major parties are pledging to boycott the elections he has called for this winter. For his part, Musharraf for all the world like a Brian Wilson in uniform, accused Benazir of producing “bad vibes” and figured out that maybe she would now be difficult to work with.
The USG Open Source Center translates an interview with opposition politician Benazir Bhutto in which she demands that Gen. Pervez Musharraf step down as president.
‘Pakistan: Bhutto Demands Musharraf Should Quit as President, Army Chief
“News Alert”; words within double quotation marks in English
Geo News TV
Tuesday, November 13, 2007 . . .
Document Type: OSC Translated Text
Benazir Bhutto, chairperson of (Pakistan) People’s Party (PPP), has urged President Gen Pervez Musharraf to quit as president besides retiring from his military post and has said that she would not work as prime minister with Gen Pervez Musharraf as the president. To know more about it, we have contacted Pakistan People’s Party Chairperson Benazir Bhutto:
(Begin recording, via telephone) (Anchor Sana Mirza) Bhutto, earlier you were demanding that Gen Pervez Musharraf should doff his uniform and now you are asking him to quit as president as well. What has prompted this change in your stance?
(Bhutto) Pakistan People’s Party wanted stability in the country so that our people do not face hardships and we make a transition from dictatorship to democracy in a peaceful manner. But I feel sorry to say that General Musharraf gave up this path unilaterally and imposed martial law again, arrested judges of courts, arrested lawyers, and unleashed violence against democratic activists. So, I believe that General Musharraf is not cognizant of the crisis our country is facing. He himself is becoming a hurdle in progress toward democracy. Pakistan’s survival is in democracy and anyone obstructing it should go. If democracy is not restored, Pakistan’s integrity will be at risk. Therefore, to save Pakistan, we are saying that General Musharraf should resign now. He has made his decision. He has refused to adopt the democratic course. So he should resign to quit.
(Mirza) Benazir, if the president doffs his uniform and continues performing duties only as the president, will you be willing to be a part of the government?
(Bhutto) No! The treatment that has been meted out (changes thought) we showed a lot of patience. I am a “political leader.” Ours is the largest party. It is a federal party. People say that People’s Party is a uniting force for all the four provinces. So there is a great responsibility on us. We take each and every step after serious consideration. I am not saying this without any basis. I tried my best that we adopt a peaceful path.
Our soldiers are dying in the tribal areas. Sometimes, they are sent to Siachen. Some other times, they are sent to Baluchistan.
Our “judges” are under arrest.
In Baluchistan, our honorable leaders have been arrested.
Everywhere. Which province should I name? There are problems everywhere — in the Northern Areas, FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas). So in this state of affairs, when General Musharraf had the opportunity and he could not manage the situation, I think he should go and an interim government of “national consensus” should be formed, which should be a caretaker government, and which should oversee fair elections; and power is transferred to the people.
I have invited all the political parties to “join” the leaders of Pakistan People’s Party ∧ Alliance for Restoration of Democracy. I have asked everyone — “civil society,” youths, “students” — to come forward. We are not offering a platform. We say that it could be any platform, but there should be a “coalition of interest” by those who want to save Pakistan. Hello?
(Mirza) Benazir, are there any contacts taking place between People’s Party and Jamiyat-e Ulema-e Islam for a movement against the government.
(Bhutto) Yes, all political parties are in contact with me and the People’s Party. Today, I had a conversation with Qazi Husain Ahmad (chief of Jamaat-e Islami) “through” Makhdum Amin Fahim. Not directly, but talks were held through him. Talks were also held with Tehmina Daultana (a leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Sharif Group). Mian Nawaz Sharif has also written a letter. I would have also contacted Imran Khan through my people, but he is “underground.” It has, therefore, become a little difficult to contact him. However, with all “political parties,” I have personally talked to Awami National Party leader (Asfandyar) Wali Khan and with Hayee Baluch; I mean, with Bizenjo. There is no such leader as with who we are not in contact. We are in contact with all. All “political leaders” want to play their role.
And I believe that there should be a “coalition of interests.” We should move ahead toward democracy. People’s Party is the largest party of the country and People’s Party desires the formation of this broader “coalition” to take the country toward democracy.
(Mirza) Benazir, you have been placed under house arrest to stop the long march. If you are kept under house arrest like this, what do you think as to how you will run you election campaign?
(Bhutto) Look. Let me tell you one thing. In our country, they say that you could judge the success of a rally, or the success of a “movement,” from two factors. Either the state does not interfere. In that case, you see how large the crowd was. What the size of the public meeting was. If the state interferes, you look at the size of the police and you look at the barricades the police erect and from their size you calculate as to how large a “crowd” could have joined you. So you get in touch with this “crowd” through the organization. If I am detained, we have our organization. If I am detained, our media is independent.
I know attempts are being made to snatch your freedom. However, we believe that the press is also an important platform. So, no one can suppress the voice of truth. In the course of history, forces of oppression tried to suppress the voice of truth. What happened in Karbala (the historical battle in Iraqi city of Karbala in which Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Husayn was killed by the incumbent caliph Yazid’s forces)? Yazid tried to suppress the voice of truth, tried to murder. And he slaughtered the caravan of Imam Husayn. Bibi Zaynab (Husayn’s sister) was left alone, who went (to Yazid’s court), but they could not silence her. The final defeat was for Yazid. So no one can suppress the truth.
(Mirza) Benazir, please state whether you have been given the hint that you are going to be shifted to Karachi.
(Bhutto) Yes, a TV station asked me that a C-130 was being prepared for me and I would be taken to your homeland. So would it be Karachi? On this, I said that I was hearing this news from them. I was confined. I could not see as to what was going on outside. Then another TV station said (to me) that they would “deport” me from the country and would exile me. On this, I said that it would be totally unconstitutional. It was my country. I did not want to leave. I would “prefer” to be detained in a prison here rather than being deported.
(Mirza) Benazir, please state that you want to launch a movement against the government. So will you launch this movement from the platform of All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM) or Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD)?
(Bhutto) APDM and ARD are separate “alliances.” However, as you know, even the separate “alliances” can join hands. It is because ARD (Bhutto changes thought) if you look at the APDM, there are various “alliances” within the APDM. One is the MMA (Muttahida Majlis-e Amal) “alliance,” which is there. The second is PONAM (Pakistan Oppressed Nations Movement) “alliance,” which is also a part of the APDM. So, different “alliances” can come together.
So, there is a possibility for the ARD and the APDM to join hands in a yet new alliance and those people who are in the ARD and the APDM, such as members of the “civil society,” too, can join this “new alliance for a minimum agenda.” I would call on all the “parties” that People’s Party was ready. The ARD is also ready, if they like that platform. I am ready as the (chairperson of) the People’s Party. I am also willing in the “individual capacity” as well to invite (everyone) and to call on everyone so that we “build up” “pressure” on a “minimum-point agenda” and pressure General Musharraf to quit both offices and establish a caretaker “national government,” a “consensus” government, in the country.
(Mirza) Benazir, as the ARD was already there as a party, what prompted the formation of APDM?
(Bhutto) Let us bygones be bygones and look at the current situation, where, in our country, Pakistan flag has been brought down in the tribal areas and attempts are also under way to lower the Pakistan flag in various areas in Swat. Bomb blasts are targeting the Armed Forces of Pakistan, Pakistani people, and Pakistan’s “markets.” Nearly 160 people embraced martyrdom in the bomb blast that took place (on Benazir’s welcome rally) in Karsaz (area). Whose sons were they? They were sons of the poor. They were sons of laborers.
When there is a blast. The personnel of armed forces or police embrace martyrdom. They come under attack. Do you think it is rich people’s sons who die? It is the poor people’s sons who die. Therefore, I ask the sons of the poor, children of the oppressed, children of laborers and “middle classes,” and youths to come forward to join our caravan of democracy. The police and army are told to fire rubber bullets, open fire on our own people. Do not do that. The actions of the sons and daughters of our soil should rise in the defense of our people. Their hands should not support the tyrant. Their hands should not be with “martial law.”
After all, they are poor people and laborers. They should join the caravan of other poor people and laborers and make it a success for a better future of the country.
(Mirza) Benazir, please state if the new “alliance,” formed by combining all other “alliances,” will prove to be the electoral alliance.
(Bhutto) Yes, we understand that all “political parties” on the “minimum point” (Bhutto corrects herself) I want to bring together all “political parties” on the “minimum point.” And I have talked to all “political parties” on the “minimum point.” Our “minimum point” should be, which remains in my mind; but I would like to change the “agenda,” if there is “consensus” on something else; our “minimum point” should be that General Musharraf resigns, an interim government is set up, and this interim government of “national consensus” conducts general elections. Rather, Nawabzada Nasrullah, may God bless him with Paradise, had said a long time ago — the day one General Musharraf imposed martial law — that “power” should be transferred to an interim government, a caretaker government, which, by supervising the general elections, should transfer power to the people.
Sister, I will have to take leave from you, because I have another “interview” to hold. I salute you and salute the brave sons and daughters of Pakistan. (Mirza tries to interrupt, but Bhutto continues uninterrupted) I will not leave them even if I am arrested. I will remain with them. “Thanks and” goodbye.
(Mirza) We would like to ask you one last question. (Bhutto is cut off with a beep of telephone) Thank you very much. (end recording) ‘
(Description of Source: Karachi Geo News TV in Urdu — 24-hour satellite news TV channel owned by Pakistan’s Jang publishing group, broadcast from Dubayy. Known for providing quick and detailed reports of events. Programs include some Indian shows and dramas which the group claims are aimed at promoting people-to-people contact and friendly relations with India.)