Musharraf calls A Q Khan `characterless`

Musharraf rejected nuclear scientist A Q Khan`s claims that Pakistani army had organised clandestine atomic deals with Iran & N. Korea.

Washington: Pakistan`s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf has dubbed disgraced nuclear scientist A Q Khan as "characterless" and rejected his claims that Pakistani
army had monitored and organised clandestine atomic deals with countries like Iran and North Korea.

"Mr (A Q) Khan is a characterless man," Musharraf told German magazine Der Spiegel when asked about the Pakistani nuclear scientist whom he had put under house arrest on
charges of proliferation of nuclear technologies to `rogue` countries like North Korea and Iran.
On Khan`s claims that the Pakistani army monitored and organised such nuclear deals, he said "that is wrong, absolutely wrong."

"I would be a traitor if I had ever given our nuclear weapons to the United States. This capability is our pride and it will never be compromised," he said. Khan, considered a pioneer of the Pakistani nuclear programme, had also claimed that he was forced to confess his role in nuclear proliferation by the then military regime.

Musharraf, who is living in London on self-imposed exile, said the days of the army rule in Pakistan are over. "Whenever the country is in turmoil, everybody looks to the army. But I would suggest that the times of military coups in Pakistan are over. The latest political developments have shown that the Supreme Court has set a bar on itself not to
validate a military takeover," he said.

"We poisoned Pakistani civil society for 10 years when we fought the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. It was jihad and we brought in militants from all over the world, with the West and Pakistan together in the lead role. After the withdrawal of the Soviet troops, the West left Pakistan with 25,000 `mujahideen` and al-Qaeda fighters, without any plan for rehabilitation or resettlement," he said.

Blaming the West for the present `fundamentalism` in the country, he argued: "Now you expect Pakistan to pull out a magic wand and make all of this suddenly disappear? That is
not doable -- this will take time."Musharraf said the West has made three blunders so far.
"After the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, they abandoned the region in 1989," he said.

"Then, after 9/11, they fought the Taliban instead of strengthening the Pashtuns who could have taken on the radical Taliban. Now you try to negotiate with so-called moderate Taliban` but there is no such thing as a moderate Taliban.
There are Taliban and Pashtuns. "But as I have always said: All Taliban are Pashtun, but
not all Pashtun people are Taliban. Again, you should reinforce the ancient Pashtun clans who are not ideologically aligned with the Taliban to govern Afghanistan and to fight
the Taliban. That`s my strong advice," he said.

The fourth and "worst blunder" would be to quit without winning, Musharraf said. "Then militancy will prevail not only in Pakistan, India and Kashmir, but perhaps also in Europe, the United Kingdom and in the United States. That`s my belief," he said.