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'I cannot tell you the amount of money Benazir and her husband Asif Zardari stole from Pakistan and stashed abroad'

Is there a section of the ISI, which believes in the export of jehad (holy war) to other countries, like Afghanistan for instance?

Gul Hassan Khan Who wants an holy war for God's sake? We had three wars among ourselves. We don't know what a holy war is. How is a holy war different from some other war? Pakistan does not have enough weapons for themselves, how can we start a jehad?

Why are the Americans worried about Islamic fundamentalism?

As far as America is concerned, except for some European nations, all the nations are terrorists for them. We were terrorists at one time. We were taken off the terrorist list. Iraq is on the list of terrorists now. They have finished Iraq altogether. Those chaps do not have food, people are dying. And America, being the world power, does not pay any attention. Americans have no mercy.

Do you mean to say that those who do not obey America are terrorist States?


What was the motivation for the formation of the Council for Defence and National Security in Pakistan last December?

Asif Zardari I am not very sure. But I am giving you my opinion. The CDNS was formed to keep an eye on the political leadership. Because they were running away in the wrong direction. Specifically during Benazir's time. I cannot tell you in words the amount of money Benazir and her husband Asif Zardari stole from Pakistan and stashed abroad. This thing could have not happened if there was some checks and balances.

I feel the CDNS is just for checks and balances. I think it will act as an advisory body. During Benazir's time there was no money in the country and she used to go abroad. She couldn't care less. Her father was the same. I think the formation of the CDNS is good in its own way. Although the army is involved, there are other people too. There are also ministers and bureaucrats on it.

Is it true that Asif Zardari was Pakistan's 'Mr 10 per cent'? And that he used to take commissions on every government project during Benazir's tenure?

Benazir Bhutto I will say 100 per cent. Ten per cent is too little. Zardari was running a parallel government.

Will there be martial law in Pakistan again?

I hope not. We had enough of martial law.

Was it at the behest of the Pakistani armed forces that the CDNS was formed? Perhaps they wanted to play a supra-constitutional role?

I don't think so. I think it was President Farooq Leghari who thought of this.

What will this council do? Was there a need for such council? With the army's presence on it, can its role ever be purely advisory?

I think we needed it. Because Pakistani politicians are highly immature. And they want somebody to sit on their heads. A body should be there to guide them. And when we say advisory body. it means that they will keep a check on politicians. I think it is a very good idea for Pakistan. Unlike Indian politicians who are highly mature, Pakistani politicians are not (mature). Indian politicians are old and seasoned. There is no seasoned politician in Pakistan.

Who are the seasoned politicians in India?

All your chaps. Your prime minister H D Deve Gowda, your foreign minister, I K Gujral. Your earlier finance minister Manmohan Singh, he is a tremendous chap. Vasant Sathe, the Congress politician, he is a good friend of mine.

Can you tell me whether the CDNS's role will be purely advisory?

That is what the army chief says.

Could Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief, with his huge mandate, reject the concept of the CDNS?

That depends on how it progresses. It has not even started yet.

Do you think Nawaz Sharief has the mandate to forge a no conflict relationship with India?

Nawaz Sharief I think so. He has got a tremendous mandate.

Is Nawaz Sharief a mature politician?

I think he is no great politician at all. His politics started in Zia-ul Haq's time.

Why has the army not been able to end corruption in Pakistani politics?

That is why the CDNS has been formed. It will took into matters of corruption. There is so much corruption all over the place and we don't know from where to start.

Do you believe that corruption has also spread to the Pakistani army?

May be now. But during my time there was no corruption. Look, when I was the Pakistani army chief, I used to earn Rs 4,000 monthly. I was quite happy. When I left the army, I was in debt by Rs 2,000. So I asked my brother to pay me that amount.

How do you make a living now in Austria?

I live on my pension. I inherited a lot of property. I invested on that and I get interest. And I am quite happy.

What is your vision for Pakistan in the next 50 years? Do you think it will remain united?

I don't know whether it will remain united. But, I hope I will not be alive for the next 50 years.

Will Pakistan remain united?

Why not? Conflicts are going on in India as well as Pakistan. Both of us are traveling in the same boat. I will give you the example of Nagaland. Problems started in Nagaland right after Independence. It is still with India.

What are the greatest challenges confronting your country?

Poverty and the population explosion.

Do you see India and Pakistan ever being friends the way the British and Germans are today? Can we be partners in a South Asian alliance on the lines of the European Community? Or are the wounds too deep, too raw for us ever to be friends?

No. No, the wounds are not too deep. The UK and Germany fought two great wars and they have become friends. Then why can we not become friends?

How will it happen?

The meeting of foreign secretaries on March 28 is a good step forward.

General Gul Hassan's photograph: Atul Chowdhury

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