Musharraf faces abusive callers during telethon

Ex-Pak leader had participated in telethon to raise funds for flood victims.

Islamabad: Aiming to enter political arena in Pakistan, the former military ruler`s first direct dialogue with the people threw up some bitter moments for him as he faced an abusive and offensive audience.

Taking part in a telethon to raise funds for millions of victims of the country`s flood devastation, former president Pervez Musharraf, who is on a self-imposed exile, faced several abusive callers who blamed him for Pakistan`s problems.

At the same time, many callers appreciated Musharraf`s effort during his tenure as military ruler. They praised him for the role he was playing for Pakistan and lauded his services as President.

A retired brigadier who called the telethon organised by a TV news channel said: "Musharraf sahab, I have two shoes for you..." He was then abruptly cut off.

Another caller asked: "Where is the money amassed for Muzaffarabad (the area affected by the 2005 earthquake)? You should account for it."

Yet another caller said: "You have sold out the daughters of Pakistan to the US. Where are the dollars so earned?"

Another caller asked Musharraf to account for the number of persons "slaughtered" by him during the 2007 military operation against radical elements holed up in the Lal Masjid in Islamabad.

One more caller said: "We can never forgive you for what you have done to Pakistan. You have plundered Pakistan to the extreme and you destroyed the country. Curse on you, curse on you."

Musharraf refused to reply to questions on controversial issues like the Lal Masjid operation and said that he would answer such queries separately.

He said the telethon was not the occasion for discussing such matters.

The former military ruler, who has been living abroad in self-exile since April last year, said he would certainly go back to Pakistan and take part in the next elections.

He said the cancer of terrorism and extremism exists in Pakistan and there is a dire need to inform the people about it.

He also said he would soon organise a similar telethon in the US in which former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger and Hollywood star Angelina Jolie will take part.

"In the programme, I will make an appeal to Americans and Pakistani-Americans to help the flood-affected people of Pakistan, after which this process will continue," he said.

Musharraf recently announced that he plans to contest Pakistan`s next general election in 2013 with the hope of becoming president or prime minister.