Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.
Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Michael Thomas/AP
In an interview with NPR's Michel Martin, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the former president of Pakistan, says he wants to run for president of the South Asian nation again, adding that he is eligible.
"It's not a rumor. Yes indeed, I have gotten involved in the politics of Pakistan," Musharraf says.
Musharraf took control of Pakistan in a 1999 military coup and became president in 2001. By 2008, he resigned the presidency under threat of impeachment.
Meanwhile, Pakistan's spy chief is in the U.S. to discuss mutual interests and improvements to security in the region, according to reports. The meeting comes after the Obama administration suspended about $800 million in military aid to Pakistan — roughly one-third of the money Pakistan receives from America annually. The suspension lasts until the U.S.-Pakistan relationship improves.
Musharraf says the suspended aid has a negative impact for Pakistan and is disastrous for efforts against global terrorism.
Many people in the U.S. and Pakistan are questioning what exactly is being done with that aid money. News reports indicate that Pakistan's army has relinquished some of its own tribal areas to groups like the Haqanni network that targets U.S. troops in Afghanistan. It's also been widely reported that the Taliban is operating under the Pakistani military's protection.
Musharraf says those statements are by people who do not understand how the country's finances run. He explains that any money coming into Pakistan goes into the state bank.
"There are no separate wallets lying there that [read] 'this is American money; this is Pakistan money; this is money coming from World Bank; this is money coming from IMF.' All that is one pool," Musharraf says.
He says he does not think American money would be spent on maintaining or supporting the Haqanni network.
"There is no doubt in my mind that Pakistan is against al-Qaida and the Taliban," he adds.
Moreover, Pakistan recently expelled U.S. military trainers and reportedly arrested Pakistanis suspected of helping track down Osama bin Laden. Those actions produced concerns that Pakistan's government is more interested in punishing people who helped find bin Laden than working with the U.S. to hunt down alleged terrorists like Aiyman Al Zawahiri, the new Al Qaeda leader whom many believe is in Pakistan.
Musharraf responds, "These are again misperceptions. I don't why anyone has been punished. I did read in a newspaper some doctor has been punished. But I'm very sure the perception that the doctor has been punished [is] because he disclosed about Osama bin Laden. He must have been punished because he did not inform our own intelligence agencies, and he was dealing with a foreign intelligence agency."
Former cricket star and Pakistani politician Imran Khan has argued against Pakistan's acceptance of U.S. aid, believing the money goes to the ruling elite rather than locals.
Musharraf says Khan is wrong. "There are charges of extreme corruption at the government level, but to think that 'this will all be siphoned off and it's useless giving money to Pakistan', I don't agree with this statement."