Musharraf calls Nawaz Sharif “closet Taliban”

Friday, January 7, 2011

WASHINGTON - Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has called former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif a “closet Taliban”.

“I call Nawaz Sharif a closet Taliban. He’s a man who is-who has been-in contact with Taliban. He is a man who, today, appeases the clerics and mawlawis [Sunni Islamic scholars] — the extremists,” Foreign Policy quoted Musharraf, as saying in an excusive interview.

When asked why he wanted to re-enter Pakistan politics when he had himself once said that being in charge of Pakistan may well be “the hardest job in the world,” Musharraf replied: “[It's about offering] another alternative to the people of Pakistan. At this moment, they are stuck between two alternatives: the [ruling] People’s Party and PML-N, the party of former prime minister and opposition leader Nawaz Sharif. If you look at both of them, [they are] dysfunctional.”

“Moreover, he (Sharif) has tried [his hand at leadership as prime minister] twice in the past-and he has failed. Why are we giving him a third chance to destroy Pakistan? My new party is an alternative to the people of Pakistan with the hope of changing the conditions of the people of Pakistan and the state,” he added.

The former military ruler said that presently, “there is such hopelessness, and there is such a sense of despondency in the people of Pakistan. It’s worrisome. People are quitting Pakistan. They want to leave the country.”

“There’s a leadership vacuum, and no political party has the wherewithal to meet this challenge. What I’ve done really is to present to the people of Pakistan with “here’s another, an alternative.” [And] I have been tested also for nine years,” he added.

Responding to a question as to why Pakistanis should give him another chance if they were not happy with him at the end of his presidency, Musharraf said: “I came into office on a very high pedestal; people wanted a change. Until 2007, I was very popular. And now with the situation that Pakistan is facing, my [favorability] graph has again gone up. Because Pakistanis now see what is happening.”

“The poor man is seeing what is happening. Essential items’ prices have gone up about four to five times [since I left office]… People have realized what has hit them. And a lot of people are calling me back, [saying] they want me back to save Pakistan. If you see my Facebook [page], which I launched eight months back, I have a fan [base] of 350,000 now today,” he added. (ANI)

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