Transcript: Chris Cuomo Interviews Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf

Musharraf discussed Pakistan-U.S. ties, Afghanistan and terrorism.

ByABC News via GMA logo
September 23, 2009, 10:37 PM

Sept. 24, 2009— -- Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf sat down for an interview with "Good Morning America" co-anchor Chris Cuomo Sept. 23, 2009. The following transcript of their interview has been edited for clarity.

CHRIS CUOMO: Mr. Musharraf, let's start with you and your future. Have you given thought yet to returning to Pakistan, returning to power?

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF: Well -- I give thought to what is happening in Pakistan. And I give thought to what the people of Pakistan are desiring, and I also give thought to whether I can do anything for Pakistan. Collectively -- I have to take a decision based on all these three elements.

CHRIS CUOMO: Is a decision coming soon?

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF:I wouldn't be able to say that --


PERVEZ MUSHARRAF: One has to look at this environment, and the issue of timing, of course, is -- very, very important. So if I was to say it's coming very soon, or a little later -- I think the -- I'm very conscious that the timing is extremely important -- but one thing is -- very sure, that I will return to Pakistan.

CHRIS CUOMO: Are you concerned that if you return, you may be arrested. You may be put on trial for treason.

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF: Well, these are realities which one has to face. But however, I am very sure of one thing, that whatever I have done till now, constitutionally and legally, there is no charge against me. So if at all, anything happens against me, it will be not according to the constitution and not according -- to legal (UNINTEL).

CHRIS CUOMO: With time and the benefit of looking back on your time as president, do you regret having removed the supreme court judge and the other jurists?

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF: I would -- I would say that -- I put it like this, that it was a correct action. I do not regret that it was a wrong action. It was very constitutional, whatever I did, and very legal. But however, the fallout then was bad. (UNINTEL) fallout, which led to upheaval that we've seen, and therefore, one would like to rethink if, with hindsight now, whether it was wise to do even a legally and constitutionally correct act.

CHRIS CUOMO: Would you have done it again?

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF: Well, that's a difficult question, yes. With hindsight, one would say -- were not to show pragmatism even on right things. But I am a strong believer of doing -- of doing the right, (UNINTEL) the constitution and the law to now, when you are asking me with hindsight, yes, one of -- it's more easier to say that maybe you're gonna -- one needs to show pragmatism. But if I'm confronted with another situation where I would, again, see the legality and constitutionality and right and wrong, and then -- take -- action in favor of right.

CHRIS CUOMO: In the decision to return to Pakistan, there is legal risk, political risk. But do you consider physical risk, given what's happened to leaders in the history of Pakistan, most recently Benazir Bhutto.

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF: That risk is there. And -- one has to accept that risk, and there's a saying, "No risk, no gain." One has to risk something to gain something.

CHRIS CUOMO: Mr. Sharif is seen as a political opponent, another potential leader in Pakistan. You criticize him. You believe that there is something that Americans should know about Nawaz Sharif.

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF: Yes, they should know a lot about Nawaz Sharif. First of all, I think he's -- I call him a closet Taliban.

CHRIS CUOMO: Strong charge.

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF: Well, he is that, because even on Pakistan television these days, talk shows are going on -- saying that he has met Osama bin Laden five times. Five times before 9/11. And he has been financed by Osama bin Laden. Then the other element is that he never speaks against terrorism and extremism. The man is a closet Taliban.

Then he's been tested and tried twice, and failed. And took Pakistan to a state where we were defaulted and appealed state. And moreover, his interaction with people, his -- his interaction, his dealings with officials -- with people who -- who are -- who matter in Pakistan, he has -- has been so abrasive, right from the beginning, he has never been on good terms with any army chief of Pakistan.

He has never been in good terms with any president of Pakistan. So I don't know what kind of a mental makeup he has. But the man is abrasive against the other power -- brokers of Pakistan, that is the president and the army chief. Always on a confrontationalist (?) course, right since the time of his joining politics, he has been on confront -- he has been on a confrontation course with his -- with his own mentor -- back in the '80s. So that is his mental makeup. Well, then -- it's for the people of Pakistan then to judge whether he's the right man to -- to run a country.