Washington, Aug.13 : Former Pakistan cricket captain and leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, Imran Khan, is of the view that the process for securing the impeachment of President Pervez Musharraf could end being an eye-wash, and is being used to buy time for the ruling coalition to save itself from collapse and possible political oblivion.
In an interview here, Khan said that he would like to believe that the impeachment is a sincere effort, and hoped that it would actually go along with the public mandate, which on February 18 was against Musharraf and for the reinstatement of sacked judges.
"Well, unfortunately we are all a bit suspicious that this is actually a smoke screen to actually keep the judges out and actually play for time, because this impeachment could be a drawn-out process. And in that, there is an equal chance that Musharraf might survive that because there are only about 10 members of parliament that need to go on the other side for this whole impeachment effort to fail," said Imran.
Elaborating, he said that if the sacked judges are reinstated, "it would be a straightforward thing of immediately annulling, nullifying Musharraf's election as the president while he was still the army chief."
He said that according to the constitution, Musharraf could not have legitimately fought the election of the President.
"So therefore, if the judges were restored, then Musharraf would go, but they (the ruling coalition) are not restoring the judges and instead going the wrong way round," said Imran.
Both the coalition partners do not recognize him as the constitutional president, so how are they impeaching him? He asked
He further opined that the present strategy being followed suggested that PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari is keen to save Musharraf, as he had waved off all corruption cases against Zardari.
"He (Zardari) has been given amnesty off all his corruption cases, worth billions of dollars. And in return, the quid pro quo is that Zardari saves Musharraf, and rather than getting the judges reinstated. If he were sincere he would just get the judges reinstated who are still the constitutional judges of Pakistan, but he is stalling on that, he is making every excuse not to get the judgesack," said Imran.
Commenting on the role of the Pakistan Army in the present political scenario, Imran said that the military traditionally been loyal to the institution.
"Our history shows that once the army chief retires, which Musharraf did last November, then it's case of the King is dead, long live the King. And they serve their own institution. I don't think they are going to stand by him," Imran said.
When asked about the ISI playing a behind the scenes but active role in the July 7, 2008 bombing of the Indianmbassy in Kabul, Imran said: " I find the whole thing quite strange that the ISI is supposed to be patronizing these militants. On the other hand, these militants have been killing not just the soldiers and police but actually they have blown up two ISI buses killing ISI personnel, right in the heart of the GHQ in Pindi."
"In my opinion, what is a more accurate picture is that the militant groups that were trained by the CIA and ISI during the Afghan jihad against the Soviets and who after the Soviet occupation the groups that were used by ISI in Kashmir and Afghanistan, they have gone out of control, or the ideological element in these groups has gone out of control, because they were indoctrinated to fight foreign occupation," he added.
He also termed the role of the United States in Pakistan as a monumental foreign policy failure of the Bush Administration.
"They backed one man against 160 million people. And, they kept backing him right through all the unconstitutional acts he kept doing, they still kept backing him. They backed him, they paid lip service to him that he shouldn't have imposed the emergency. But when the illegal and unconstitutional election was announced, they quickly backed him again," said Imran.
"The US, standing with the military dictator, has actually harmed the image of the US, it has raised anti-Americanism in our country, because here the people who were watching a military dictator using the army to kill their own people," he added.
As far as the conflagration on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border is concerned, Imran said: 'The people in the US need to understand that what is called the tribal area, has never known any central authority in its entire history. This tribal area, the Pashtuns there have fought every invader in history, from Alexander downwards. The British lost the highest number of soldiers in the tribal area, in the 200-year history of occupation or ruling India. In the tribal area alone they lost more soldiers that in the rest of India. And their interaction was only 80 years. This tribal area joined Pakistan through a treaty in 1948, whereby only 40 laws of Pakistan apply in the tribal area, they are basically autonomous."
"Now it is the most rugged mountainous terrain. So for any Pakistan head of state, giving any guarantees to the US that they will be able to stop these tribes, half are on one side of the border, half are on the other side, and there is no border. There's never been a border. The way to have tackled it was through dialogue, through winning the tribesman over to their side," he added.
"The tribes have nothing to do with Al Qaeda or Taliban, they should have won them over to their side, rather than indiscriminately bombing them, aerial bombing, bombs not knowing or differentiating between women, children and terrorists and the collateral damage, pushing the tribes on to the other side, and it's a huge mess being created their and they need to change strategy," he said.
Asked what his advice would be to presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama, Imran said: "My advice is that they need to change strategy. We don't want more of the same. It's a failed strategy, and my advice to them is to study the Rand Corporation report, that says that only eight percent of terrorist conflicts have been resolved through military. Terrorism is an idea. You don't win this war on terror if you don't win the hearts and minds of people. The more people die, the more people join the terrorists."