Pakistan Ex-Ruler Musharraf Favors Deals With Taliban to Counter Militants

Pervez Musharraf, the former army general who was Pakistan’s military ruler for nine years, told ABC News that he favors agreements with moderate Taliban in the fight against Islamic militants allied with al-Qaeda.

“After defeating the Taliban, after 9-11, I always was of the view we need to go in for deals,” Musharraf said in an interview broadcast on ABC’s “This Week” program today. “My strategy was always to strike a deal.”

The 67-year-old former army chief said he disagrees with U.S. criticism that Pakistan isn’t doing enough to fight terrorism and says the U.S. should understand the problems that have given rise to violence in the region and allow Pakistan to solve its own problems.

“Pakistan has always been accused of not doing enough,” Musharraf said. “I totally disagree with this statement, we are doing enough.”

The U.S. is stepping up missile attacks in northwest Pakistan to target Islamic militant guerrilla groups.

“We are suffering hundreds of people dying from bomb blasts and suicide bombs. And yet we are the rogues,” Musharraf said. “Let Pakistan alone and let us -- let us deal with the problem.”

Musharraf started a new political party from London earlier this month called the All Pakistan Muslim League. The party has attracted about 300,000 followers on the social networking site Facebook.

Party’s Agenda

Musharraf said he is working with his new party “to create an environment of popularity, of political clout” before returning to Pakistan before elections in 2013. The new political party will seek to stamp out poverty and corruption while improving security, electricity and water, Musharraf said.

Musharraf seized control of Pakistan in a bloodless coup in 1999. He became a U.S. ally against terrorism after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and stepped down as president in 2008 to avoid impeachment charges for illegally seizing power and mishandling the economy. He left Pakistan after resigning and now lives in London.

Last year, Pakistani police issued charges against Musharraf for unlawfully keeping judges under house arrest in 2007 when he imposed emergency rule.

Musharraf’s criticism of the leadership of Pakistan follows floods that left about 17 million people without homes and at least 1,500 people dead.

To contact the reporters on this story: Carol Wolf in Washington at cwolf@bloomberg.net; Sara Forden in Washington at sforden@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ann Hughey in Washington at ahughey@bloomberg.net

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