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India 'existential threat' to Pakistan: Musharraf

March 26, 2011 19:28 IST

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has said that India is an "existential threat" to isĀ  country and blamed New Delhi for its nuclear weaponisation programme. Asked which is more of a threat to Pakistan -- extremism or India -- he chose the former.

"At the moment, it's extremism and terrorism. But you can't compare. Let's not think this is a permanent situation. The orientation of 90 per cent of Indian troops is against Pakistan. We cannot ever ignore India, which poses an existential threat to Pakistan," Musharraf told Time magazine in an interview.

Talking about nuclear weapons, Musharraf said, "Yes, we have nuclear weapons, and we are proud of it. Nuclear weapons are the pride of every man, woman and child walking on the streets of Pakistan. Why are we nuclear? Because of India."

Asked if he considers Pakistan as the most dangerous country in the world, he said, "It is very dangerous, yes, I will have to admit. But the most dangerous is Afghanistan. "Talking about the ways to combat the rise of the religious fundamentalists in Pakistan, 67-year-old Musharraf, who stepped down as President in 2008, said there are two choices, either to succumb to circumstances or do something.

"I know the people of Pakistan are moderate. It's unfortunate when the government itself and the leadership appease the religious groups and extremists by turning a blind eye." The former President said the decision by the United States to pull out of Afghanistan was not a good one.

"I know (what) public opinion is in the West and the US. But real leadership comes when you need to change public opinion, not go with it, because it's not in your interest or the world's interest. This is the reality in Afghanistan at this moment," said Musharraf, who now lives in self imposed exile in London and Dubai.

Talking about crisis in Libya, he said, "The will of the people should reign supreme. It's almost a civil war there (Libya). A political situation must be found."

Musharraf, however, seriously objected to comparisons between him and leaders such as Tunisia's Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak and Gaddafi, saying he left Pakistan peacefully on his own accord.
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