Former president retired General Pervez Musharraf sees Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as an anti-Pakistan and anti-Muslim politician but he hoped in an interview with an Indian TV channel beamed on Wednesday that he would change the negative stance for the sake of peace in South Asia.
Speaking to Headlines Today from Karachi, the former army chief cautioned that India and Pakistan had a nuclear dimension in their strained relationship that neutralised the unequal conventional military parity of about 4:1 in India’s favour.
“The world knows that there is a nuclear connotation involved. So please don’t incite trouble,” Gen Musharraf said. “You are already inciting trouble on our border, in Afghanistan, in Balochistan. I think it’s very unbecoming that you are trying to take advantage of Pakistan’s internal problems, which we are trying to face and fight, especially terrorism,” he said.
“Modi is anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan,” Gen Musharraf said as he accused the Indian prime minister of subverting the peace dialogue with Pakistan. He rejected India’s demand that Pakistan should stop meeting representatives of Kashmir’s Hurriyat Conference.
“Prime Minster Modi is your prime minister, not Pakistan’s prime minister. We don’t get any dictations from him. We know his credentials. We know his anti-Pakistan credentials.
“Now, it may be a red line for you that people of Pakistan or the foreign secretary must not meet the Hurriyat (leaders). That is not our red line. We do not follow your red line,” he said.
Gen Musharraf, who engaged in a dialogue process with prime ministers Atal Behari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh, said he used to meet Hurriyat leaders every time. “Why is there a change of heart? That itself shows and proves aggressive credentials of PM Modi.”
He said the Pakistan government under Nawaz Sharif has been extremely positive on the peace process. “In fact they have been maligned for being overly appeasing towards India. People of Pakistan really understand your ill-intentions towards Pakistan.”
Rejecting New Delhi’s allegations of Islamabad’s involvement in terror activities within the Indian territory, Gen Musharraf said, “India has no proof of any Pakistani involvement.”
Instead, he accused India of creating troubles in Pakistan.
“Our guard on the eastern borders are never down,” Gen. Musharraf said.
The Indian army has been asked by the Modi government to step up border patrols and retaliate with more force if they come under attack. New Delhi has insisted there can be no talks with Pakistan unless it ends shootings to push militants into Kashmir.
Gen Musharraf said Pakistan had stopped raising the Kashmir issue at the UN under his watch because his Indian interlocutors were conducting a bilateral dialogue to resolve the issue.
Islamabad had to return to the UN after Mr Modi suspended all talks.
He challenged Mr Modi to pick up the thread of the Kashmir dialogue with three watchwords he had subscribed to: sincerity, flexibility and boldness with courage to sell the deal to the public.
The interview has come at an awkward time for both governments amid hopes that the two prime ministers were looking to end their aloofness at the forthcoming Saarc summit in Kathmandu.