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Musharraf's credibility has eroded: Ex-ISI chief
Sheela Bhatt in Mumbai | July 10, 2007 19:54 IST
Last Updated: July 11, 2007 00:49 IST
Will Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf [Images] gain from the Lal Masjid operation?
"Oh no! He may be a hero of the operation in Lal Masjid for outsiders and for the neo-liberals who have no commitments and remain happy irrespective of other people's plight," said Asad Durrani, former chief of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence, speaking to rediff.com on phone from his Rawalpindi residence.
Durrani said the Musharraf government's military operations against jihadi elements in the tribal areas and the Lal Masjid issue are interconnected.
Giving his views on the dramatic events in Islamabad, Durrani said, "There was uncertainty because of the military operations in Waziristan, Balochistan and Banjaur. We have seen violence in Karachi, too.
"The point is that our own people have died in these operations. These are tribal people. They don't reconcile or sit back. They react and they react quickly. Sometimes they take time. Tribals have their own sense of timelessness. To their woes when you add judicial and political issues, you will see that they are all connected to the current crisis."
"All the time you people are talking of madrassas. I am looking at the other fact. Most students inside Lal Masjid were tribals," Durrani added.
Durrani warned that there could be reactions in the tribal areas of Pakistan to the operation in Lal Masjid.
Although Durrani, who has a lot of experience within the Pakistani establishment, didn't say it in so many words, he was against such a military operation which has seen high casualties.
"In principle one would never say such an operation was necessary. If I comment on the military operation, I would say the final operation should have been quick and short, but this operation was not over even after seven to eight hours. Maybe not enough information was available before it started. When something is building up, you work patiently, get more information, plant your people there, and have a dialogue," he said.
Durrani argued that people who were living around the masjid area, relatives of children who were inside the masjid and politically inclined people supported the military operation against the masjid.
Does Durrani think Western nations will appreciate Musharraf's operation against the radicals?
"The West is the least of our concerns. These are our people. These are our internal developments.
"Second, you must note that radical elements grow when you don't deliver good governance. Once any government tackles the radicals or the Taliban, people's sympathy for them always increases. Regardless of their ideology, when the government kills people it creates a reaction," he said.
When asked if the situation would give Musharraf an excuse to impose emergency, Durrani said nothing could be ruled out, but chances are less than 50 per cent because "that would also mean that the last few years of his rule failed."
"Musharraf's credibility has eroded. When his reign began, his credibility was high, after 9/11 the graph went higher. After the recent judicial crisis, it nosedived. Now, after the attack on Lal Masjid it may go up slightly, but will plummet quickly. The operation in Lal Masjid will have a cumulative impact and it will also impact the global war on terrorism."