Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf has said that friendship with India could only be “possible on equal terms” without sacrificing the country’s self-respect.
“People think I don’t want friendship with India. It is not like that. Relations with India were good in my tenure,” Musharraf said.
“We were close to resolving major disputes pertaining to Kashmir, Sir Creek and water treaty,” he said in an interview to Samaa TV channel.
But he said that “his stance is clear that friendship with India is only possible on equal terms and with both countries respecting each other.”
When reminded that he masterminded the Kargil operation, Musharraf admitted it did happen but pointed out that India had also played its role in creating Bangladesh.
“They also undertook such operations so Kargil also happened,” he stated.
Musharraf was forthright in stating that friendship with India was possible even with the government of Narendra Modi.
“Yes we can have friendship but not if India keeps on violating the Line of Control, killing our soldiers or sponsoring terrorism in the West in Baluchistan to destabilise us.
“We should have good relations with India even if Modi is Prime Minister but not by bowing down to India or accepting their aggression.
“If they continue (their) aggressive acts and proxy acts then we can also respond in similar fashion,” he said.
Musharraf, however, said a cordial relation would benefit both the countries. But he said “we need to be given respect as an independent and sovereign nation.”
He said India needs to understand that if they take one step towards friendship, Pakistan would respond by taking two.
“I followed this principle but I (also) believed in a tit for tat policy on all fronts.”
The former military dictator also said he felt it was time Pakistan had a third major political force. “I think we have tried and tested the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples Party with governance several times and they have failed miserably.”
“I would like to play my role in having this third option.”
He said people needed to understand that Pakistan should stop making itself a laughing stock to the world and that it did not matter whether there was democracy or military rule what mattered was whether Pakistan was making progress or not.
While refusing to confirm or deny whether the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) had a political wing, he said he didn’t feel the ISI should have a role in politics.
“But unfortunately the political forces themselves involve the ISI in politics themselves and this must stop.”