Wolf Blitzer interview Benazir Bhutto on CNN.
Posted by QB on September 28, 2007
Benazir Bhutto two time former Prime Minster of Pakistan and her governments were ended with corruption charges without completing its full terms. Benazir Bhutto is in US trying to convince Bush regime that she is the better choice to fight their favorite “war on terror” than Pervez Musharraf. The following is the transcript of her interview.
Protests in Pakistan right now, about 1,000 people rallying in Lahore, calling for President Pervez Musharraf to be removed from office. He seized power back in a 1999 coup and has been a key but controversial U.S. ally in the war on terror. Today the president Pervez Musharraf formalized his candidacy for another term as president of Pakistan.
There are dozens of candidates seeking President Musharraf’s job, but among some of the more formidable challengers is the country’s former prime minister, the first female leader of Pakistan, she’s about to return to her country from exile.
BLITZER: And joining us now, the former prime minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto. Prime minister, thanks very much for coming in.
BENAZIR BHUTTO, FORMER PAKISTAN PRIME MINISTER: Thank you.
BLITZER: You’re going back to Pakistan, even though you know you’re wanted there on corruption charges, among other things. When, first of all, will you go back to Pakistan?
BHUTTO: I’m leaving on the 17th of October and arriving on the 18th of October. It’s 21 days to my departure and I can’t wait to get back home.
BLITZER: What makes you think you’ll be received any differently than another former prime minister who went back and was quickly kicked out, Nawaz Sharif?
BHUTTO: I’m in a different boat than Mr. Nawaz Sharif. He was sentenced for treason and tax evasion. I haven’t been sentenced for any crime. And, secondly, Mr. Nawaz Sharif got the Saudis to stand guarantee for his release and said he wouldn’t return for 10 years. I was offered the same deal, but I refused. And my husband stayed behind bars without a conviction for eight years. So, we are in two different boats. There are no guarantees.
BLITZER: Do you have assurances from President Musharraf that you will be allowed to stay in Pakistan?
BHUTTO: Well, General Musharraf has not given this assurance, but I know I can’t be handed over to any third country. So the choice is either to let me be free or the choice is to try and lock me up.
BLITZER: And so when you get back to Pakistan, what’s your game plan? You want to run for office?
BHUTTO: Yes, I want to go back and bring change. People want democracy, and there’s a critical path in Pakistan’s future, one fork between dictatorship and democracy, another between moderation, the issues of moderation and extremism. People want change. They want democracy. I think that we can undermine extremism through Democratic means.
BLITZER: You’re a relatively young woman. How scared are you, though, because as you know, Osama bin Laden and other terrorists, they’ve attacked you in the past, and they clearly would like to go after you now.
BHUTTO: Yes, of course, they would like to go against me. There’s a lot of threats because under military dictatorship and an anarchy situation has developed which the terrorists and Osama have exploited. They don’t want democracy. They don’t want me back.
BLITZER: They don’t want a woman to be the prime minister of Pakistan either.
BHUTTO: And they don’t believe in women governing nations. So, they will try to plot against me, but these are risks that must be taken, I’m prepared to take them.
BLITZER: Yeah, your family has a history unfortunately, a tragic history, of assassinations.
BHUTTO: I know the past has been tragic, but I’m an optimist by nature. I put my faith in the people of Pakistan. I put my faith in God. I see that what I am doing is for a good cause, for a right cause, to save Pakistan from extremists and militants and to build regional security. I know the dangers out there, but I’m prepared to take those risks.
BLITZER: Your father was killed at a political assassination.
BHUTTO: My father was killed. It was a very terrible moment in my life. But I also learned from him that one has to stand up for the principles they believe in. And I’m standing up for the principle of democracy. I’m standing up for moderation. And I’m standing up for hope for all the people in Pakistan who today are poor and miserable and really quite desperate.
BLITZER: Can you forge an alliance, an alliance of convenience, with President Musharraf that will allow the two of you to work together for the benefit of Pakistan?
BHUTTO: I have been trying to reach an understanding with General Musharraf to bring about a transition to democracy, and I was quite hopeful a few weeks ago, but now I’m getting a little worried, because time is running out. And unless General Musharraf can take concrete steps to show that we are moving forward, moving away from dictatorship towards democracy, it might be very difficult for us to reach an understanding.
BLITZER: What can you say about all the reports, widespread reports, that the two of you met secretly?
BHUTTO: Well, there were these widespread reports that we met secretly. And whenever we’ve had an opportunity to meet, we’ve had a good rapport, a good exchange of ideas, but there are people around him who don’t want this understanding, who don’t want him to make the political concessions that are necessary to facilitate the path towards democracy. I had asked him to take some steps for fair elections. Those remain unimplemented. There were certain other commitments. So, now I worry. I worry that time is running out and there’s pressure on my party to join the other political parties and resign from parliament unless an accommodation is reached with General Musharraf.
BLITZER: So I just want to be precise. Are you now confirming that you did have these meetings in recent weeks and months with President Musharraf?
BHUTTO: Well, we were supposed to keep it secret, but it’s kind of an open secret now.
BLITZER: So you can confirm that for us.
BHUTTO: You’re not letting me off the hook. But sort of.
BLITZER: I will take that as a confirmation. Michael Scheuer is a former CIA analyst, he ran the bin Laden unit at the CIA. We spoke with him earlier today. He said you’ve been targeted in the past, including by Ramzi Yousef, who was the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and you will be targeted again. I just want to get back to this point. You got be very worried. What kind of security will you have when you go back there?
BHUTTO: Well, I have raised the issue of my security with General Musharraf, and I’ve asked him to provide me the security that I’m entitled to as a former prime minister. I hope that he will provide me the security, because I have been a target of terrorists in the past. And I know I could be a target in the future.
BLITZER: Who are you more afraid of, the al Qaeda, Taliban elements who hate you, or elements in the Pakistani military?
BHUTTO: I’m not afraid of either the al Qaeda or the Taliban elements or the Pakistani military. But I think at the end of the day, the people who try and plot will use al Qaeda, will use Taliban, because Taliban and al Qaeda are the groups that will suffer the most major reverses if my party and I are returned to power. We fought them in the past because we want a stable Pakistan, a prosperous Pakistan and we can’t get any stability with militancy and extremists.
BLITZER: President and you’ve had a strained relationship to put it mildly with President Musharraf. In his book he says that when you ran your party, you were chairperson for life in the tradition of the old African dictators. Strong words coming from him. And all the charges of corruption that your party was rife with corruption, your husband, what do you say to those allegations, which some, including Michael Scheuer, the former CIA analyst, said had a strong element of truth?
BHUTTO: Well, I would say that a person is innocent unless proved otherwise. There’s no sentence against me. These are politically motivated charges. When the chief justice of Pakistan proved to be a problem, he was slapped with corruption charges. These are deliberate allegations made to detract attention from the institutionalized corruption of the military, transparency, international, a reputed international group has said that corruption under the military regime is far greater than it was under previous civilian predecessors.
BLITZER: You have called President Musharraf a dictator, and he runs a dictatorship. But as you know, the Bush administration, the U.S. government, has a strong relationship with — with President Musharraf’s government, and relies on the Musharraf government to cooperate in the war on terror, to provide some sense of stability, security, in that part of the world. What’s your basic complaint with what the U.S. is doing right now? In other words, is the U.S. supporting a dictatorship?
BHUTTO: I certainly think that the United States is supported a dictatorship for its own short-term strategic reasons arising out of the war against terrorism. When Musharraf has been seen as a reliable ally. But last year President Bush went to Pakistan and made a pledge, to support democracy and free elections. And Condoleezza Rice yesterday gave a statement expressing her disappointment about the arrests of political activists. So, I think that the United States is gently trying to prod General Musharraf on to the path of greater democratization which I welcome.
BLITZER: But do you have any doubt that President Musharraf is committed to destroying al Qaeda which has gone after him on several occasions as well?
BHUTTO: Well, he says he’s committed to destroying them.
BLITZER: What do you think?
BHUTTO: I don’t think he’s been very effective. I think the longer — many people think the military is the solution. I don’t. I think the situation has become anarchic and will continue to be anarchy because as long as there is a military dominated regime in Pakistan.
BLITZER: Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister of Pakistan, you’re a courageous woman, good luck when you go back.
BHUTTO: Thank you.
Source : CNN Situation Room Transcript
She in her interview said what Americans wanted to hear. According to analysis the corruption charges were true but it is sad that Pervez Musharraf has become so unpopular fighting Bush “war on terror” that he was forced to cut deal with Benazir Bhutto which she is not honoring because she believe that her party candidate can defeat Pervez Musharraf in Presidential election. This is one more example that she is corrupt politician with typical flip flop tactics to gain power. Wolf Blitzer did not know that Benazir Bhutto very proudly called herself the mother of “Taliban” and now she is promising to be tough on her own children to grab power.
Benazir Bhutto is living in self exile after Pervez Musharraf took power and now she planned to return to Pakistan next month where she might still face corruption trails. Benazir Bhutto still a tough road ahead to face and win election which will not be that easy because she will run on US policies to be tough of “war on terror’. The chances are that she might become the strong opposition party in next election and Pervez Musharraf again form the government, if he win Presidential election, with coalition with Islamic Parties.
Benazir Bhutto looks like succeed in getting US support by making them believe she is the best alternative just like Ahmed Chalabi.