Military coup makes Musharraf an illegitimate leader: Benazir Bhutto

On the eve of the historic Indo-Pak Summti, when the leaders of Pakistan and India have finally agreed to sit across the table to bring down tensions in South Asia, the former prime minister of Pakistan, Ms Benazir Bhutto, remains adamant. She has said that she will not abide by any agreement reached by Gen Pervez Musharraf in Agra. The self-exiled leader spoke exclusively to Akrita Reyar about reasons behind the stand.

Q. You have already stated that you would not stand by any agreement reached between Prime Minister Vajpayee and President Musharraf. Considering the fact that Gen Musharraf is not abrogating any previous agreement between India and Pakistan, including the Simla Accord and the Lahore Declaration, would this not be unfair? Ans: General Musharaf failed to convince the two major parties to meet with him before going to Agra. I`m unaware as to what he plans to do during the talks. The point I`m making has to do with democracy. The democratic and elected leaders have a mandate from their people to negotiate on their behalf. The negative burden that General Musharaf carries is that he is a coup leader and the architect of Kargil. That`s why I emphasised that he should pay more attention to the democratisation process. Democracy and Peace go together. Q. The political state of a country is its internal matter. The talks between Prime Minister Vajpayee and President Musharraf would be a dialogue between the leaders of two countries. Does this not lend legitimacy to the summit? Ans:Perhaps it does in the eyes of some people. The other view is that unelected leaders go on foreign forays to divert attention from domestic woes. Or use international issues to buy time and power. I fear that any agreement reached by Musharaf would be rejected by the people. I fear that the Army would reject it too as soon as he is an ex chief. Therefore, I called for talks with representatives who are elected. Q. Also, if the dialogue does yield some positive results and can break the deadlock on Kashmir, would it not be a step forward for the subcontinent? Ans: The dialogue will be watched keenly and if there is something positive, my Party and I could respond positively. However, agreements by dictators are unrepresentative and could be rejected at any time by others. Q. If you were in President Musharraf`s shoes, what would you do? And what be on your agenda of talks with Mr Vajpayee? Ans: If I were in General Musharaf`s shoes, first I`d set my own house in order. I`d let an elected government be formed to talk to India. The issues with India would include: Kashmir, Nuclear Risk reduction, Re-deployment to Kargil, Mutual Troops Reduction, Trade, CBMs, visa relaxation, institutionalised regular meetings, the Iran Pakistan India Gas Pipeline and how we could reform the World Trade Organisation together to make it more humane with others who think like us.

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