Full Transcript of Musharraf Interview

Below is the full transcript of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's interview on Friday, Nov. 30 with Chris Cuomo for "Good Morning America."

Chris Cuomo: So you've said, Mr. President, the last few days were very uncomfortable for you, not just as a leader, but emotionally difficult for you. Some of the most painful days of your life. Why?

Pervez Musharraf: First of all, the idea of breaking from an institution in which you served for 46 years, half a century, and where you've worked with all your heart and soul and that my passion, as I said, has been all along. And then, um, of course the pressures of governance, the turbulence in the country. All these created a combined effect.

Cuomo: When did it sink in that -- not that you said you're taking the uniform off -- but that things are different now? When did it hit you?

Musharraf: It hit me at the ceremony, I think, when I handed over the baton to the new army chief of staff. Uh, that ceremony that was very nostalgic, very emotional because I thought this is the day when I am leaving. I am no more the chief.

Cuomo: After the ceremony, any second guessing when you woke up this morning? Did you think, What have I done?

Musharraf: No not at all. Absolutely not because I've been living with this idea for months, many months. Since maybe the beginning of the year, I had decided in my mind I had to quit because the constitution allows me up to ... November. And I knew I had decided I could not violate the constitution, and I can't unless we have a two-thirds majority in the assembly, and it passes a vote for my extended term in uniform, so there was no doubt and all along I had decided in my mind I had no doubt I would remove my uniform.

Cuomo: What made you decide to do it now? Pressure from the U.S., from the military?

Musharraf:No military doesn't exert any pressure, military is with me. They're my military for half a century, and there's no pressure from the United States. Yes the whole world thought I had to doff my uniform, but I don't make decisions on pressures from abroad. I see things domestically. What is in the interest of Pakistan and as I said there was no pressure when you want to do something else and someone is telling you to do the opposite. I myself had said I was going to remove the uniform and I will follow the constitution. That's what I've been saying for a year since the beginning of the year, I will follow the constitution. so what kind of pressure is there? They are saying exactly what I want to do.

Cuomo: You ask me why I was holding the newspaper. For a sitting president this is some front page to deal with, you have the challenges of two different opposition parties, you have challenges from the Taliban, you have challenges from the court, you have a lot of pressure and challenges. How do you think you can bring this all together and unify the country?

Musharraf:The country will be unified. The country is unified against terrorism. First of all, I think everyone realizes we have to fight terrorism. So sure, terrorism, the country is unified we will fight terrorism. Whichever party wins and whichever leader comes into the fore. And the Army is determined to fight terrorism. That is as far as terrorism is concerned. The other is political. These are all issues that will get resolved once we have elections. And the party whichever wins forms the government and has the prime minister. And I think all this will fall in line.

Cuomo: You think it will all just go away when you have elections?

Musharraf: Well, I wouldn't say that everything will go away. No. We'll keep fighting terrorism. And the opposition here, it's not like other countries. The opposition keeps agitating. I know they will start saying, for example, that whoever loses here -- we are very bad losers.They'll keep saying that they'll -- the election has not been fair. And I'm saying it just now. Even now, before the election, they'll keep saying that. And then whoever loses, elections have not been fair.

And anyone with -- boycotts for example. Some had boycotted. One or two had boycotted. But they are -- now they are carrying on saying that the elections should not have been held. For whatever reason, I mean I don't know why they are boycotted in any case.

Cuomo: Do you think you can recover from what's being called your second coup? The emergence and acts of government that you did. Do you think you can recover from what's being called the second coup. That the powerful political position has caused some distress among the people in here. How do you think you can regain their trust that you want to do what's right for Pakistan?

Musharraf: I will call the opposition. The opposition has all around been behaving as they are behaving since five years. They have been behaving like this. They have all along these five years tried to destabilize me -- and the government. Trying their best to -- all along for the five years. Now as far as the other part, what did you ask? Sorry. The...

Cuomo: You said the emergency rule is necessary to deal with security threat and extremists. But you wound up putting many people in jail who were political opponents. Judges, media. Made people think, "That's who Musharraf thinks the extremists are?"

Musharraf: No.

Cuomo: ... The opponents. It doesn't engender a lot of confidence in you that you believe in democracy.

Musharraf: Yes. No, that, that is not the case. Now that is exactly when I said, "Let's do it the hard way." ... After the speech that I gave after the oath taking. You have to understand, we don't want agitation here. We are going in for politics. We don't want agitational politics. Agitation means breaking down everything, burning things. Right? Now if they are going to do that, we will not allow it. But this is not an agitation where in the West people come with placards and they go away and streets are very clean. Here they'll burn down everything. They'll burn cars and motorcycles. That cannot be allowed. So therefore if anyone is trying to do that, we will stop it. That is the way it is in Pakistan.

Cuomo: You said we want civilized politics, not confrontation politics.

Musharraf: Yes.

Cuomo: Your opponents say, though, that you're saying you don't want opposition. You're saying you don't want them burning the streets. Your critics say, "No, he doesn't want any opposition. If you say you're against him, he throws you in jail. If you say you're against him and you're chief of the court, he locks you in your home." This is not a good impression.

Musharraf: No... absolutely wrong again. That is why, exactly what I show. The West needs to learn what is happening in Pakistan.[unintelligible] is back. Is that putting people on jail? Omar Musharraf is back. Is that what -- putting people in jail? And they are talking -- they are giving interviews to television. Just now I came, all of them were having great interviews on television. Is that -- putting people in jail? We put people in jail if they want to come and burn down and destroy things. They will be put in jail.

Cuomo: How do you explain putting Bhutto under house arrest and saying -- [Overtalk] ... That raises speculation.

Musharraf: Yes, indeed. But she was under house arrest because she was going to take a procession which would -- again, there is a terrorist threat. There would again be a bomb blast. And, again, the same element. If you take a procession now, are you going to again burn down and destroy things. The [unintelligible] of certain culture that we want to follow up to the elections. And that is tranquility, peace. Do your election campaigning.

But if you are in, "We are going to boycott elections. We want this. We want that. We want this. And now we are coming out into the streets and we are going to go in a procession." No sir. This is not the way.

Cuomo: Do you understand why your actions raise concern in the West about how you're treating your political opponents? How you're treating the media and people who are seeking...

Musharraf: Yes....The media. And all -- the media. Yes, indeed. We had to crack down on the media...

Cuomo: Why?

Musharraf: Because the media was creating despondency and despair in the public of Pakistan through distorting facts. Not all of the media. Some elements. Some elements in the media.

So therefore we had to introduce a code of conduct. We asked them to -- this -- the last one year I'm asking them to produce a code of conduct of their own. They did not. So therefore we had to introduce a code of conduct. All of them signed -- those who signed are back. And they are -- the media is there.

What I want to repeat, the Western media needs to understand Pakistan. We are not United States. We are not U.K. We are not Europe. This is Pakistan. Come and learn what is Pakistan. And then comment. Unfortunately, as [unintelligible], that you comment sitting in Europe and try to kind of work Pakistan into Europe. No, sir. That's not the case. This is Pakistan.

When I say it normally would be ... human rights and civil liberties as we want to handle it, one man, Hezbollah, in [unintelligible] with some radio put the whole [unintelligible] on fire. Now human rights say, "Well, you -- you [unintelligible] . What is the problem? Carry on."

No, sir. This is Pakistan. We cannot allow this one man to do that. The people are illiterate. This man is a good cleric. He talks. He motivates. And he indoctrinates people from the [unintelligible] radio. So we crack down on him. What does the -- what does the West say about this civil liberties then? Should we allow him?

So please come to Pakistan and see Pakistan. And what is happening here. You've got colored eyes there. You -- you're seeing -- seeing Pakistan with jaundiced eyes because you ... you're sitting in-- wherever you are. People -- the -- the environment here is different. See this environment. And then comment. Then comment.

Cuomo: I've had the good fortune of being here several times and I've enjoyed it every time. And it's been a great education. Do you think this is a little bit about both sides learning, though? You have to learn here as well about how to deal with your opponents? About how to deal with people who say things that you don't like? Is that part of the learning curve as well?

Musharraf: I haven't I have been most compassionate. I don't think any leader in Pakistan ever tolerated what I tolerate. So nobody has to teach me that. I've already -- I know that. Even today if you take the newspapers and read the newspapers, we would have written things against me. I tolerate everything. I have no problem with criticism on me. Or even the government. But if that criticism is biased and distorted, distorted by design, distorted by political design, now that is where I got -- get agitated.

Distortion of facts. See, political involvement. Now this is annoying. And then if this distortion is leading to despondency, despair of the nation. This is annoying. This is a violation of a code of conduct.

And we have taken the code of conduct -- I saw code of conduct in West -- many Western countries. And I realize that, "My god. We are -- these people are far more independent than your press. Your media." There is -- there is always a check in your media. I know that.

Cuomo: But you don't get locked up when you put out a story or say something...the government doesn't like.

Musharraf: The issue is different, right? In your country, you don't -- maybe you don't hang people. Here we hang people. Okay? Now don't teach us what you have. We will not impose what you have in your country in Pakistan. We have our own rules and regulations. We have our own constitution. We have our own people. ... They behave in a certain way. And therefore the responses are in a certain way that we think is suitable for Pakistan.

Cuomo: Well, on the front of terror...we'll talk about politics more, but on the front of terror you said in your speech,"The back has been broken of terrorism." In the West there is a perception that $10 billion in aide has been given here to help educate and squash terror. And that the situation in many ways seems worse. What do you say?

Musharraf: First of all- - well, back -- what I could -- should have said back of the service in [unintelligible] have been... [unintelligible] That's all. I should have clarified that. And that is my error. I think then we -- we are -- but we are fighting terrorism everywhere.

But when you say about $10 billion, sir, this is -- most of the money for services provided to troops. OK? So please don't -- don't -- be mistaken that we've got $10 billion just like that. We have provided services and it is meant for that. The -- most of the money for that. So, that's not the case.

Cuomo: So the money aside, when you look at the current situation, the concerns that the Taliban is moving aggressively into areas again, that the northwest frontier of problems is -- you have trouble there, why do you think this is happening? Why do you think the trouble, extremism, is on the rise instead of on the wane?

Musharraf: In Afghanistan or in Pakistan?

Cuomo: In-- in Pakistan first. ...

Musharraf: No extremism, extremism is not on the rise in Pakistan. Extremism may be on the rise in Afghanistan. We- - in that part, especially south where the Pashtuns are bordering Pakistan, that is the area where there is trouble. The trouble is not that it -- in Pakistan being exported to Afghanistan. The trouble is in Afghanistan being exported to Pakistan. Now let's see Pakistan in that context.

I think in the Fattah area, yes, indeed, there is extremism. There is terrorism. There is -- there is al Qaeda. And there is militant Taliban who go across the border. Now that is what we are checking. But in the second district there is no [unintelligible]. It is the people of Suwat who are with us, who have assisted us. And that is why we- - we are succeeding there so much.

Cuomo: You dismiss the reports that the Taliban is moving into areas. It's being welcomed. That there's a growing fundamentalist and ... extremism... movement.

Musharraf: ... In the southern district?

Cuomo: And in general. That it ... is spreading ...

Musharraf: Absolutely --

Cuomo: And it is moving... from the tribal areas into more settled areas.

Musharraf: Yeah. No, no. Absolutely I reject that. That is not the case. I know there is [unintelligible] ...One has to very realistic about it. In Suwat, whatever is happening is being done by the locals -- some locals. The clerics. They have been reinforced by Umbet. They have been reinforced by some people, even from Punjab, the southern part. These extremists. But that is not on the rise.

They are being defeated now. Why are they -- how are they being defeated? It's the people. It's the people who don't want them. And they -- you should not wave those extremists.

If you find out details -- and I would like you to go and find out. You can go to the division how. They'll give you a briefing. They can even take you wherever you want in the operations area because that goes out in sections to the army now.

It the people there, this Kalam and Swathraly is a tourist area. They own money through tourism. They are extremely upset because their businesses are down. So the people are not at all extremist. They don't carry weapons. They are not like Fattah. And this -- these -- these are the people who are extremely happy now. And they are with us.

Cuomo: But do you dismiss the reports that extremism is on the rise? That the Taliban is recruiting more actively again? That suicide attacks... are up?

Musharraf: In Fattah, yes, indeed. I can't say that it is on the wane there.

Cuomo: But there...have been bombings here in Raul Pendi.

Musharraf: Well, that doesn't...mean that it's...on the rise, no. That doesn't mean it's on the rise.

Cuomo: What does that mean?

Musharraf: Who is doing the bombing? You see? ... Who is doing this? The source. We have got many people. We have got many of them. Most of those who have carried out the bombings in the last few -- month or two months have been caught. The source generally is the same. If it from south Wuziristan back to Lamasud. And [unintelligible] group. That is the source. They recruit suicide bombers and send them to Pakistan.

So that is -- we must understand the realities- - so it's not on the rise. It's gone down. Let me tell you if you reflect back about four or five years, all these -- extremist organizations who have banned, they used to have professions. They used to address big gatherings. And there used to be hundred masked men with Kalashnikov standing.

Show me one in Pakistan now. Show me one in Pakistan. Where people will be standing with weapons. Not one. This is our success. You must...and just go back four or five years and see all the meetings there.... They're not an organization. They used to have thousands of people standing and people guarding with no police could enter. So today, not one. And they used to move -- their leader used to move with three vehicles up from -- in the front and the rear with people with mask and Kalashnikovs. Show me one man doing this in Pakistan?

Cuomo: While there is the progress, are there also areas where you're still challenged or do you think you have it all under control?

Musharraf: No. (Laughs) We don't have it -- please don't take the [unintelligible] No, we don't have it -- in control. Let's be very clear. In the Fattah there is al Qaeda. I told you and I've been saying this. They are there. We are fighting them. They are mostly Uzbeks and some Arabs.

Cuomo: But you don't believe that they're moving into other areas?

Musharraf: No other... the foreigners are not moving into other areas except Uzbeks where they're in Suwah. Because if the Suwah, this area has linkages with Bajor agency. Now that is where they were coming from. Now that we have cut them off, I am sure we will finish this uprising here in Suwah Valley. In a few days maybe.

Now they're there. And they exist. The militant Taliban. They have linkages. They provide support. Maybe money. Maybe explosives. And then there are local -- local tribals, especially in south and north Wuziristan, who are doing militant, who are the militant Taliban.

They are the ones who are going across Afghanistan also. And they harbor people coming across from Afghanistan. And they are the people who carry out suicide attacks here. They train people to carry out suicide attacks in Pakistan. Now this is the reality. Whether they are -- we are defeating them. Now in the settled areas certainly we are defeating them. Absolutely. Positively. We are dealing with the northern district and we'll win.

In the southern districts where they were extending beyond south Wuziristan and north Wuziristan in the ... third district, we are- there's a district called Pank. This was totally disturbed. The Taliban used to come from Wuziristan and they used to attack and do everything there.

Pankia (a rural province in North West Pakistan) is peaceful today. And there's a division headquarter there. There's a general. We can tell him to receive you. See [unintelligible] Pankia. It's totally peaceful. There is one area there which I don't want to name, because we maybe we act there after, once we've dealt with in the north. We thought we shouldn't take both of them together. We'll deal with one. We'll go to the other one.

When you're talking of south and north Wuziristan, even there there is a sharp decline in the IEDs, in the various ambushes and all of that they were carrying out. The sharp decline is because of a very, very strong action we took with Air Force, [unintelligible] helicopters and the army and artillery that they got extremely worried that we mean business now. And that is how there's a sharp decline in that also. But they are there.

Cuomo: Do you have a concern that in the military there is a rising division between those who wanna fight terrorism and those who have sympathies for some of the more radical Islamist movements. And that there is a tension in this country about whether or not you should be fighting these people in the first place?

Musharraf: Any -- anyone who fear this doesn't know the army. Unfortunately. And it pains me when anyone thinks like that.

Cuomo: You've heard it before... though?

Musharraf: Yes, I have heard it. I have heard it. This is the, what the Western media always keeps saying. We have gone through 30 years of turmoil. We were first fighting for 10 years Mujahadin, Taliban. We were training them. You were giving us money to train them. You were giving us arms to hand over to them. That is what we were doing. For one decade we did that. And we launched a jihad together.

Now suddenly you leave us -- everyone goes. And you want us to face this way now. Okay. Okay, bye. Your our man now. Everything is hunky dory. And face this way. No more any -- anything. We handled the situation up to 9/11 for 12 years all alone with four million refugees there. And you keep blaming Pakistan. What kind of an attitude is this? I just don't understand. So this has its repercussions, effects on Pakistan.

Cuomo: So you're saying there is a problem here, but it's not of Pakistan's making. It was what the U.S. asked to be done and then left?

Musharraf: Yes. That had a very big [unintelligible]. That had very big effects here. Yes, indeed. Absolutely.

Cuomo: But doesn't that make it difficult to ... fight it today because there are those relationships? The Taliban was something that you had...

Musharraf: No.

Cuomo: ...engendered here?

Musharraf: No.

Cuomo: Does that hurt you now?

Musharraf: No, no. We we understand what is so, good for Pakistan. Now I come to that. ... Yes, indeed. We realize that Taliban, or whatever was happening in Afghanistan, we didn't -- we wanted to control it but we hadn't- - didn't have the resources for -- from '89 to 9/11. We're all alone. Pakistan was all alone.

So al Qaeda came up. Who's al Qaeda? The same Mujahadin who we brought. They coalesced and became al Qaeda. So [unintelligible] al Qaeda in 1990? This came about in Afghanistan.

And then -- then the Taliban ruled in 1995. Who was dealing with this? Pakistan all alone. Nobody else. And when Osama bin Laden [unintelligible] came in and every -- the world wanted him to be shouted out of the place, who was doing anything?

People [unintelligible] hanging me up. I don't want to name the leaders who hang me up. Help out on getting this man out. Deal with Mullah Omar. And I said, "Send four delegations." I used -- I sent delegations of clerics from here. I used to send my DDI [unintelligible] from there -- from here to deal with the Mullah Omar. To ask him to behave and send this Osama bin Laden out. The world was depending on Pakistan. Pakistan stood alone, because we only had -- we were only country which had diplomatic relations with them.

So this was -- we were -- certainly Pakistan didn't want, and I didn't want, Taliban kind of a culture in Pakistan. So therefore 9/11 came. And then we were very clear. We are not on the side of Talibanization of Pakistan. So therefore whatever decisions we took, we took the decision. Now we to see our intelligence organization -- as far as the military was concerned. Military carried out orders. And there's no question that our military is divided, as you said. That some don't want to fight them. People certainly -- the military is unified. And they want to fight. They want to eliminate terrorism and extremism. ...

Cuomo: I don't understand. You just said two things. You said, "Yes, our military is divided. Some are not sure whether or not they want to fight them." And then you said it's unified. Which is it? Just to be clear?

Musharraf: No, no, no. Hold on. I never said that military is divided. ... No, no. I didn't-- I haven't changed that [unintelligible]. I never said that the military is divided when they are going to fight someone else. The military is unified. The military carries out orders. At this moment, let's deal with this fear side. I think that's talk of the present and the future.

The military is unified to fight terrorism and extremism. Yes, there may be some elements who may be thinking of a different solution in Afghanistan. That there is a need of political dialogue in Afghanistan, which I have also been saying.

Using military alone will not solve the problem. You must go on a multi-prong strategy. Let's involve political handling and also developmental strategy. And that is how it should be multi-pronged to resolve the problem. But these are ideas-- but otherwise as far as military action is concerned, in south, north Wuziristan, in Fattah, in southern district, military is very clear. We have to fight militancy and we have to fight terrorism.

Cuomo: You brought up Osama bin Laden. Obviously for the Western world he is the face of terrorism. I know you've been asked 100 times at least, "They believe he's here. Why haven't you caught him?" Is the closest thing to the truth that we've never been close to catching Osama bin Laden. And you may never be able to catch him. I mean is that the simple reality?

Musharraf: Could we? Could we? We are together on the intelligence. We call this whole war or this whole conflict, the major operations is easier. Intelligence is more difficult. And this is a war of intelligence. You have to -- there are people -- every [unintelligible] is a weapon. Now true intelligence, you have to know who is the enemy and where is the enemy. Everyone is not the enemy. There is no defense line which you are to attack and overtake. And -- you run over a defense line and you get everyone.

Now that is the situation. So in certain situation -- and in-- and in intelligence we are cooperating fully. And who has more intelligence? The intelligence is human intelligence, technical intelligence, aerial intelligence. Who has technical intelligence and aerial intelligence?

Cuomo: The U.S.

Musharraf: Yes, sir. But we cooperate very well. So if there's a failure, it's not Pakistan's failure. Please don't accuse us.

Cuomo: It's not that you don't wanna act on the intelligence. That you're torn about whether or not to aggressively go into the areas where the terrorists are?

Musharraf: No, not at all. Not at all. Not at all. Wherever we see targets, we hit them. ... Now the methodology of hitting them is worked out together.

Cuomo: Right. You've said in the past you would like that someone else take care of Osama bin Laden. That it's complicated for you. That it's tricky about what would happen. If you were to capture him you don't know whether you'd give him to the United States. Those type of comments raise a suspicion about how dedicated you are ... to that mission. ... But the reality is it's complicated for you.

Musharraf: Yes, it is.

Cuomo: Osama bin Laden. A lot of people ... are in... favor of him here.

Musharraf: I spoke the truth, but that doesn't -- that doesn't mean that we won't handle the situation. If we get it, that we can -- we will handle the situation. Obviously. But I was just expressing a wish, very frankly -- well, I shouldn't have done it, maybe.

Cuomo: You shouldn't have done it because when you say, "We'd rather somebody else do it," it raises questions ... about how aggressive you wanna be on it, right?

Musharraf: No, I don't think it should have created that doubt, because we are extremely aggressive on any targets that we see. When we see targets and we hit them, you don't see faces. You know that this is the enemy.

The -- they are doing training. They are together, they are doing military training and we hit them. Now we don't know whether Osama bin Laden is there or [unintelligible] is there or anyone is there. We may be having some intelligence that so and so may be there. So...

Cuomo: If you knew where Osama bin Laden was, would you go in and get him and turn him over to the United States?

Musharraf: Well, let's not go into the semantics, but we will get the target. Yes, indeed. Absolutely.

Cuomo: Even if it were Osama bin Laden?

Musharraf: Absolutely.

Cuomo: And you would turn him over to the U.S.?

Musharraf: Let's not talk about whether we will turn him over to the U.S. ... or we do something here. How will we behave? Within... we'll treat him very well or we'll beat him up or something. (LAUGHS) Why get into that?

Cuomo: But it's a big question certainly to the Americans. This is enemy number one for them. They wanna know that their friend in Pakistan is on the same page. And that if you caught Osama bin Laden he'd turn him over.

Musharraf: I think the people who need to know know it. And I don't think the media is the one who needs to know.

Cuomo: Why is it something you wanna be careful about?

Musharraf: It's a very sensitive issue. It's a sensitive issue in the people of Pakistan. So why -- why get -- why arouse sentimentalities?

Cuomo: Because it's also a sensitive issue to your friends in America.

Musharraf: Well, come over Pakistan.

Cuomo: Nuclear weapons. There has been concern now that with instability in Pakistan maybe the nuclear weapons will become vulnerable. What can you say to assure that they're safe?

Musharraf: : Well, I have assured a hundred times. We -- we have nuclear weapons. Now there was a time when these were being produced, but they were not under good custodial control. The first thing that I did when I came on the scene in '99, let us get them under custodial control. Meaning, thereby, let's have an organization, an institutional check, on the production, on the storage, on the handling. And let's have -- so therefore we created a national command of quality, which is a supreme body. And the President is the chairman. And minister, then military men, are the members. And we created an SPD. Strategic planning division. A separate area to assist the NCA to execute their orders. Cuomo: So it's multi-layered.

Musharraf: : And then -- and then there is a army-navy-air force strategic force command. We created this in 2000. Everything that we have are now under this organization. Fully controlled. While the security and finances were decentralized initially in the '90s, now they are centralized with the SPD. So therefore the security, the financial control, the developmental control, the employment control is all institutionalized. And I'm very sure they are very -- very well under control.

Cuomo: Are you any closer to a deal with Benazir Bhutto to share power?

Musharraf: I'm not dealing -- I'm not into any deal with anyone. We are in a stage where we have to have free, fair, transparent elections. Now whoever wins, then that is a time that there will be a requirement of coalition, if at all it's a hung parliament. So if I start dealing now, what -- how can I do that? What about the other political party? How do we know she's going to win? Let -- let her win the election first.

Cuomo: But haven't you been dialoguing with Benazir about working together as a coalition?

Musharraf: : Yes, dialoguing. We were dialoguing. That was a time when she was out and there was cases and there were -- so therefore we -- we went on a policy of national reconciliation. Political reconciliation. And this happened. The dialoging with her. [unintelligible]...return Nawaz Sharif. This was through political reconciliation process that we decided. And that is what happened. But if we are to get into a coalition with her, how can I? I'm not leading a party, first of all. And if at all she wins, then only -- it's the political party who need to be having -- developing relationships.

Cuomo: It's -- it's an interesting question. Because now you've taken off the uniform. The military is not necessarily your position strength now. I know they're your friends and I know they back you and it's a half a century of history. I understand that.

Musharraf: OK.

Cuomo: But if the elections are free and fair and Sharif's party and Bhutto's party get a lot of power, does that force you, now as a political animal, to align yourself with some of the religious parties that are out there that have some fundamentalist leanings and compromise you politically? Have you thought about that?

Musharraf: No, I -- we have to see -- after the election how things develop. And -- and I -- I have all the choices, if the situation develops in a manner that was just absolutely unacceptable to me, I have a choice of leaving. (LAUGHS) I mean you know I have no --[unintelligible]-- around against me. I hope to take my decisions at that time. All options will be open.

Cuomo: Constitutionally you have the ability to select a prime minister though, don't you, as president? Musharraf: Yes. Yes.

Cuomo: So you could, theoretically, dismantle any government that wasn't acting out the way you thought they should?

Musharraf: Well, it's not -- no, that is what the West thing. That is what your view on the subject is. But yes, indeed, it is there. But it is required very much to exercise checks on the -- on the president himself, on the prime minister and the army chief.

But you have to understand Pakistan's environment again. Again, you talk from your point of view. From your environment. Like if I was to say that there's no democracy in United States because the -- the -- they are -- the -- the -- people who run the government with the president are not the elected people. So what do you say to that? You have your own system. We have our own system. We -- we have the parliament. The ministers come from the parliament. They are the elected people. Can I say that you don't have democracy in the United States? No, I can't. This is your system. Now here the issue was that the government misperformed. Every time we've seen it for 11 years. Not 11 years, but for 60 years. Never has the government completed its tenure. Every time the government has been changed for some reason or the other.

Cuomo: It's an interesting --

Musharraf: So we want- -

Cuomo: --point.

Musharraf: --to bring some kind of harmony and sense into that.

Cuomo: It's an interesting point. Now everyone's talking about Benazir Bhutto and Nowana Sharif. But in truth they've both had two terms. They had big problems in their governments.

Musharraf: Yes.

Cuomo: What does that present you with as a situation? That now people, if you wanna say in the West, okay, in the West, are looking at you and saying, "Work with these people." Is that difficult for you when you look at their personal histories and say, "What makes them so great?"

Musharraf: It is --

Cuomo: : "Why should I work with them?"

Musharraf: -- isn't that a proof -- a sense that I am -- I have -- I have a sense of democracy? That I be -- believe in democratic culture? And I don't have the authority to remove them. It's the people of Pakistan. Now if they had party who want to be with them, I am nobody to dismiss them. So therefore -- therefore the democracy.

So on one side you believe in democracy. The other side you are telling them you -- you want to go around with them. Well, what do you think I can do with them? There's -- there's democracy in the country. The people are with them. The -- their parties. Their -- their party followers. Now that is where it is.

Now if -- yes, indeed. And it is the people of Pakistan who should realize do they want to work for them? They know their past. Everyone knows the past. Now if they -- they still work for them, because, yes, indeed, the -- the voting country here is very different. I don't want to get involved in that.

There's a feudal culture here. A person who may be anything, in a tribal culture they will vote for him. [unintelligible] you liked him or not. He may be [unintelligible]. He will get elected. So this is Pakistan's culture. Okay?

So now the issue is only after that that you have to have some checks. That is why the importance of this element which you -- I know in the West you think that this is not democratic. That the president can dismiss or dissolve the assembly.

It is very democratic if you have a check on the president. If you have a check on the president who has to use it, and we instituted this check through the National Security Council. And the other thing -- why I am optimistic of the future yes, for many reasons. One is this National Security Council where the prime minister, the leader of opposition, the chief minister, the military men, and the speaker and the -- chairman [unintelligible] will be sitting. We will make sure many things. Number one, that the prime minister governs -- because otherwise he's going to be [unintelligible], "What are you doing? The economy's going down?" Do we see there was no such institution? Only the president could tell him that you're not governing well. And it used to happen.

For 11 years it happened four times. And that is why every time president had to fire the -- the -- all of the assembly. Now this forum will ask. So therefore the prime minister hopefully will remain on track. The president cannot dissolve the assembly one fine morning getting up because he had some differences with the prime minister. This institution is there. And the people will [unintelligible] you [unintelligible] you don't have to dissolve the assembly.

The third is the army chief. He cannot for -- take over the government. He has to come here. And then he said, "Everyone think that government in Pakistan is going down. We need to dissolve," or anything, that is the National Security Council is there. So --

Cuomo: There's more power sharing than ever?

Musharraf: : Yes. It takes a [unintelligible] these checks. The other issue is I think the people of Pakistan, the biggest issue, know the development that has taken place. The economic rise that we are in. The upsurge --They know th -- mega-development projects going on. The construction activity. The telecommunication boom. The infor-- information technology. The industry going up. Education and health. They will know that now what the hell is happening? It's going down. And thirdly, the media. I must give all the credit to the media now, although I have my critics against them.

Cuomo: Now they're getting...the credit.

Musharraf: --they're not responsible enough. They-- because of the freedom of the media, which we have given them, and because we are--

Cuomo: You also--took it away though.

Musharraf: Pardon?

Cuomo: You gave it to them but you also took it away.

Musharraf: No, we have given it back to them again.

Cuomo: Right. After you took it away.

Musharraf: Yes. Because they were not behaving responsibility. Elements in there. Yes. We had to do that. So now this media with the tele-- with dozens of television channels-- which we allow. Otherwise there was one PTV (Pakistan Television Network) before. We allowed these dozens of TV channels. And I allowed that, may I say, because there was a lot of opposition not to do it in 2000-- back in 2000 when I took this decision. But I overruled all of them. Made-- maybe 90 percent of the people were saying, "No, we-- we don't-- cannot do this." But I overruled.

Now this media is very vibrant, which is the good part. They should see any government, and they should exercise the checks and expose any government which is mis-performing. So these are elements which give me optimism for the future.


Cuomo: I have one more question -- about the -- Madrasas. The -- you're very intent on having a better public education in this country. The concern about the Madrasas. What is your position on them? What do you think about whether they're growing? What's going on in there? What you're doing to control them. 'Cause I know it's something that you've promised in the past. You wanna get after. What is the condition? Musharraf: Yeah, it's [unintelligible]. Cuomo: What's the problem? What's -- what are you doing? Musharraf: Yes. Again, this is a good criticism-- on-- my lack of achievement. Madrasas. Now Madrasas-- first of all, in the West there's an impression that all students of Pakistan go to Madrasas. Only about three, four percent of students are in Madrasas here.Ninety-seven percent are in regular schools. Let that be very clear through this television. This is not known.

The perception created in the media is that everyone goes to Madrasas here in Pakistan. So only three percent. The other issue, now what have we done. Madrasas strategy was a part of a complete strategy of reducing extremism from the society. Now what will we do? And let me-- maybe it's a-- a little bit of a long response, sir. First part was we have to-- ban organizations. Extremist organizations.

I spoke about those who were masked men with Kalashnikovs. We have met about 75, 80 percent success. Some groups come up with different names. Their don't carry Kalashnikovs. They don't have any kind of protection now. So we have met about 80 percent success.

We needed to control misuse of loudspeakers in mosques. We had people who were being charged up against extremism. Indoctrinated. And I don't think we much-- met very great success. But we have made about 25 percent success. And I am pursuing it because there hundreds of thousands of mosques.

Through the local government system I am trying to impose these restrictions on this extremism in mosques. The third area was we needed to look at our syllabus and curriculum. There were elements with-- it was leading to extremism. We removed that. There's a new curriculum. A new syllabus introduced. Then we needed to look at the hate materials that was being published. Posters being distributed outside every mosque. We have met 90 percent success. You will hardly find people distributing this hate literature or you-- if you go to the bookstores, you will hardly find books on this hate and extremism. About 90 percent success.

Then we come to Madrasas. Now Madrasas what is our success? We wanted them to register so that we know. About eight-- 75, 80 percent have registered. Success. We wanted them to throw out all foreigners who were-- who were there in thousands from all over the Muslim world. There are only a few hundred now and they all have NOCs, No Objection Certification, from their embassies. About 95 percent success. There may be some hiding. There may be. But a dozen or two dozen or a hundred from thousands.

The other was teach them subjects across the board. And mainstream. And take board examination--success. Most of them are teaching board subjects. But they do not want to take the board exams. They said, "We will take our own. There are five [unintelligible]. That we will have our own examination." That is where we are stuck. We were resolved-- we were almost resolving it. Finding a [unintelligible] media. But then we came up with this Women's Protection Bill and all that. And we-- that retarded the process. So we'll go along. So that is a partial [unintelligible] of success.

So please-- the West, again, please understand what we are doing and what we have achieved. And see that what we have not achieved in the light of what we have achieved. I would say we have at least 50 or 60 percent or 70 percent of the glass full. The empty part is 30 percent. We need to fill that up. But don't please keep criticizing us, blaming us and demoralizing us by all the time thinking that we are not doing-- doing anything.

This is the reality. That goes counter to our anti-terrorism and anti-extremism strategy. You should see our intentions. You see-- you should see what we have achieved. But unfortunately in the Western media, what I see-- all the time see what we have not achieved. And blaming us and criticizing us. A person like me gets-- I mean one gets agitated. What-- what is happening? Is the media in favor of the people fighting terrorism? Or is it achieving demoralization of the forces which is-- who are fighting terrorism?

By continuously blaming what they have not done. And not seeing that we have suffered a thousand casualties. A thousand of my soldiers have died. And yet we are being blamed that we are not doing enough. What more do you want Pakistan to do? And this is-- let the Western media-- and I am--against the Western media, not be supportive of-- let extremism and terrorism. I think the way it behaves supports terrorism and extremism. It encourages that.

Cuomo: How?

Musharraf: It-- it brings them into the media. You make news of them. And you make villains of the people who are fighting because you keep criticizing them and demoralizing them.

Cuomo: That's how you see it?

Musharraf: Yes, yes. That's what I-- that is how I see it. That's all the time Pakistan army, Pakistan intelligence is criticized in the West. I know that. There are articles in the papers. It is very demoralizing for the intelligence. For the military who have suffered so much casualties. And the-- the environment is not of Pakistan's making. It is of the making of what we have suffered since 30 years. And yet nobody realizes that. And we have suffered thousand casualties. We are fighting. We are in the-- in the front facing IEDs, suicide bombers. And yet we are being criticized. So what kind of a battle are we fighting against terrorism?

Cuomo: I appreciate you taking the time to do the interview.


Cuomo: I am thankful that you let this Western member of the media into Pakistan to talk to you. I appreciate the opportunity, especially during such a challenging time, Mr. President. I wish--

Musharraf: Thank you.

Cuomo: --you the best. I really do.

Musharraf: Thank you very much.

Cuomo: Thank you.