New Delhi, Jan 14: Pervez Musharraf just can't get enough of media coverage it seems. An interview a day and foot in mouth syndrome the President's passion it seems, his latest being an interview to Fareed Zakaria of the Newsweek magazine, in which he waxed eloquently about why he is the only person capable of fighting the jihads. According to Pervez Musharraf one of his qualifications is that he can take on Hillary Clinton.
"I can speak out against Hillary Clinton. I can speak out against anyone." He is dismissive of Hillary Clinton's opinions about the security situation in Pakistan claiming that its because she has no access to intelligence briefs and once she becomes President, if she does, she will sing a different tune. usharraf dismisses Hillary Clinton's suggestions that Britain and the US should take joint control of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. Three times in the course of the interview he is derisive of Hillary's apparent lack of information on this score.
He adds that Benazir couldn't have fought the jihads because "she was very unpopular with the military. Very unpopular". According to the President unless you have the military with you, fighting extremists is impossible. Also he adds " Pakistani's know I can be tough." Just incase anybody had any misgivings on that score.
Clearly on an aggressive mode, the Pakistan President says that it would be foolhardy for American troops to enter Pakistani territory because "American troops don't have any magic wands. Our troops, who are the locals, who understand groups and customs, are very hardy. Our troops can go on roti and water. American troops would need chocolate." This comment by Bush's man Friday in South Asia is bound to ruffle feathers at the Pentagon. No country likes its army belittled and least so the Americans. Pervez Musharraf being a former Army Chief should have been well aware of the serious consequences of his flippant remark.
Musharraf's megalomania surfaces ever so often in the interview. When asked to comment on the charge that the government was complicit in the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Musharraf says, I refuse to listen to such accusations. I refuse to. I am the government, OK? I am not feudal, and I am not tribal. May I ask you, would you, if you were at the head of affairs, ever think of killing somebody like that? It didn't appear in our minds. Would it appear in your mind that you could get rid of a person through a bomb blast."
Refuse to listen to accusation? Is that how one refutes a charge? I am the government? Then why have elections? I am not feudal or tribal? Does that mean if one is feudal or tribal (read not of the uniform) one is to be damned? On many of the questions which Fareed puts to Musharraf about accusations made by the opposition that the Benazir investigations have been bungled, the President retorts with disdain :"I laugh at them."
He ends with a line aimed straight at Foggy Bottom, hoping that the administration has not woken up this Monday morning and read the Washington Post which has an article saying most Pakistanis want Musharraf to go. The interview concludes with "But what I am fortunate to have is my influence over everyone, over the political leaders, over the coalition. My influence is not [the result of] constitutional powers I have."