updated 2/9/2004 2:05:40 PM ET 2004-02-09T19:05:40

The following is a full transcrpit of an interview of Dr. Prevez Hoodbhoy, Anti-nuclear activist and Professor of Physics, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad conducted by NBC News Producer Robert Windrem on January 30, 2004 at Princeton University, NJ.

Dr. Hoodbhoy, you see yourself as a reformer. President Musharraf sees himself as a reformer. Do you think you're both pursuing the same things?

Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy: To my mind, Pakistan's greatest need is to get out of the arms race with India, to establish democracy within the country, and to have peace and justice for all the people in Pakistan, to get rid of feudalism and so forth. I don't think that these are the goals that the Pakistan army has set for itself. It is the most privileged institution in the country and it has worked systematically since the inception of Pakistan to enhance its power and privilege.

NBC: But he has reserved maybe a quarter of the parliament for women, he's gone through economic reforms, he is now moving himself away from the army, and has made what appear to be very productive moves towards peace with India - aren't all of those things quite stunning when you look at his predecessors and the history of the nation?

PH: I am indeed very pleased by some of the things General Musharraf has done, and this includes his peace overtures towards India - let's hope that they last.  But there are fundamental structural problems, the army is in a position where it has systematically enhanced its power and privilege and its control over civil society.  Today if you look at where the army stands with respect to the rest of society you see that army officers are the chief executive officers of most major corporations in Pakistan. They own vast amounts of land. They are owners of industries and the army corporations, as well as those of the navy and the air force.  
They own the largest corporations in Pakistan, and they have an enormous amount of power. In fact they say that other countries have armies, but the Pakistan army has a country.  And that's not going to change under General Musharraf or any other general.

NBC: So you think that he is so much a part of the army, that he's essentially less a part of Pakistan?

PH: General Musharraf owes his power entirely to the fact that he's the commander in chief of the Pakistan army. And were this position taken away from him, he would be - more or less - like an ordinary citizen. He would be like one of the politicians who have no real power in Pakistan.  And so it is critical that he take the army along with him, and so far the army has gone along with him, but that is not to say that it'll keep happening.

NBC: There are those who are pessimistic about Musharraf succeeding, and there are those who are optimistic about it. Where do you put yourself on that spectrum?

PH: It's very hard to see what the future will be, but there is substantial opposition to General Musharraf's positions with regard to Afghanistan and with regard to the steps that he has taken to control jihad.  Now let's not forget that prior to his U-turn, General Musharraf was the man who had initiated the Kargil conflict.  He was the person who had resisted Nawaz Sharif's overtures towards the Indian Prime Minister, and had refused to shake hands with Prime Minister Vajpayee when he came to Pakistan in 1999.  Of course it's very good - I'm very happy that General Musharraf has changed his mind, but this has been in response to external pressures - it's not something that has come from within him.

NBC: In 1972 President Nixon changed his previously anti-communist policy, for strategic reasons, and fostering relations with China. Do you think that Musharraf has undergone a similar transformation?

PH: General Musharraf had to make a fundamental decision on the eleventh of September.  He could no longer now run with the hares and hunt with the hounds. Formerly he had said that he was against jihad and would not support the idea of insurgency in Kashmir. But there was no compulsion upon him.  However, now it is different. Now he has had to throw his lot in with the Americans, and he simply cannot do what he was doing before. He has had to make a choice - that choice is now to move along with the United States.

NBC: Why do you say he had to do that on September 11th? Couldn't he have continued doing what he was doing?

PH: September 11th left no choice for General Musharraf because he knew very well - and he was able to convince the army hierarchy on this - that had he chosen to not go along with the United States that Pakistan might well have been the very next target. Remember this was a time when Afghanistan was being talked about as a target poor country, and the United States was out - as they say - to kick ass.  And indeed Pakistan may have been attacked because of the substantial numbers of jihadis on Pakistani territory - the existence of training camps and so forth - there was every likelihood and I think General Musharraf did well in moving along with the Americans on this at this juncture in history.

NBC: Has he basically gotten himself into a position where he cannot turn around now?

PH: It is now very difficult for General Musharraf to turn around and say, 'No longer shall we support the United States. No longer shall we assist it in its hunt for al-Qaida.' And that 'we will go back to our policy of years ago of inflicting a thousand cuts upon India and having training camps for jihadis on Pakistani territory.'  He cannot do this anymore - the world has changed - the situation has changed and his options are very limited.

NBC: So he's very pragmatic?

PH: General Musharraf prides himself as a pragmatist.  He says, 'I have turned the country's economy around. I have saved it from destruction from bombardment by the Americans,' and so forth. And to an extent he is correct.  However he was not pragmatic enough until recently, because he did continue to support the jihadis in cross-border incursions into the Indian part of Kashmir. But now the pressure upon him is so large that he has had to change his Kashmir policy as well. And I must say that that goes to Pakistan's benefit - because this is a failed policy.  This could not have been sustained. It lost Pakistan its support on the Kashmiri cause and it didn't do any good to Kashmir.  It might have done some harm to India, but the harm it did to Pakistan was far greater. So I'm pleased indeed that General Musharraf has had to reverse course on Kashmir as well.

NBC: He's gone out of his way - pull back Kashmiri insurgents, to convince Islamists in National Assembly to go along with this - this might indicate a fairly sophisticated political sense, and a long term commitment to the policy.  Do you think that's true?

PH: General Musharraf does not act alone - in fact no chief of army staff acts by himself.  He has had to take his corps commanders along, and I think the reasons were sufficiently strong that this was possible. The fact is that Pakistan was gaining very little by following its policy of jihad in Kashmir - that world opinion had turned against Pakistan - it was not supportive of Pakistan.  So although was bleeding, yet the harm to Pakistan was much greater.

NBC: You wrote in December 2001 that Musharraf's acceptance of U.S. aid was a "poisoned chalice." Do you still believe that?

PH: I think that Pakistan's relationship with the United States should be based on a fair and equitable relationship. That Pakistan should not be dictated to, by the United States.  That we must look after our own national interests, which on occasion may coincide with those of the United States, but could very well be different.  And I think that military aid to Pakistan is not a very good idea.  What Pakistan needs is assistance in health, education and in all those areas which are needed to improve the lives of people there.

NBC: But it has obviously drawn the two countries together. The U.S. does appear to be at least quietly engaged in the Indo-Pak rapprochement. So are there at least some benefits right now for Pakistan in this relationship?

PH: I think that the United States can play a very positive role in the subcontinent.  For one it can help India and Pakistan move together and move towards peaceful coexistence rather than the repeated wars that we've seen in the past.  It can help build bridges between the two countries. But at the moment, it is as interested in that as in pushing weapons.
What we are seeing now is a new era in the acquisition of weapons technologies by both India and Pakistan.  For example, the supply of anti-ballistic missiles to India is now becoming a real possibility and if that ever comes through, then that means there will be yet another spurt of arms racing - because obviously Pakistan will think that it cannot get its bombs and missiles over to the other side, and create a whole lot of nervousness.  And then we see a repetition of what happened in the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. That was why the ABM treaty was signed, and its negation at that time would've been catastrophic.

NBC: Give me a thumbnail sketch of General Musharraf.

PH: Everyone who meets General Musharraf praises him for being open and sincere and a very personable man - and these are very fine qualities for anyone to have. However let's not forget that he represents the army as an institution - he's not just speaking for himself.  He represents the opinions of the corps commanders and of the top army hierarchy.  Therefore, it not just enough to say that he's a good man.  You have to see what the interests of the people behind him are - and those interests are not always those that are the interests of the people of Pakistan. Therefore, he may be a very fine person - but we have to be careful in evaluating what he wants, what he says, and put it in the general context.

NBC: There are those that believe he has led a revolution of sorts within the army - and that his ideals have become so well entrenched within his coterie and junior officers that even if any of the assassination attempts had succeeded, his beliefs would live on in his successors. Do you believe that?

PH: If General Musharraf is assassinated, I think it will be a tragedy for Pakistan.  I do not think that we could make any predictions as to what would happen subsequently because the ethos of the army is not necessarily that of General Musharraf's personal ethos.  One has seen that over the last decade - in fact the last two decades - recruitment into the Pakistan army has been actively to enlist those who believe in jihad and Islam and particularly at the lower levels. At the officer level, there is also a very high level of Islamism.  General Musharraf is, relatively speaking, a person who is secular. There are others in the army who do not think like him, and in fact we saw that after September 11th - he had to remove two, or rather three of his very close associates.  And so I don't think there are any guarantees.

NBC: How would you characterize the loyalty to him among various levels of the army hierarchy?

BH: In the Pakistan army - or for that matter in any institution - personal loyalties don't really matter all that much.  What matters is institutional loyalty.  So what you will see is officers of the Pakistan armed forces will be loyal to their own particular services and they will pursue those particular interests.  Now for the moment, what one sees is that General Musharraf has managed to convince perhaps the majority of the people in the top hierarchy that what he has done has been in the interests of the institution - of the army, air force, and navy - as well as Pakistan.  And he may well be right.  But then, one cannot see this continuing indefinitely.  At some point, maybe the army will not agree with his becoming too close to the Americans and following all the twists and turns of US foreign policy.

NBC: What do you feel is Musharraf's biggest flaw, in terms of character?

PH: Like every person who has been at the highest level of power for too long, General Musharraf has now convinced himself that he represents Pakistan's true interests and what he says is right. And so although he occasionally listens to other points of view, he is now convinced that he is the statesman par excellence - and that's dangerous - because that leaves little room for democracy and the opinions of the people at large.

NBC: Do you think he sees himself as a visionary as well?

PH: General Musharraf views himself as the savior of Pakistan - and he's convinced of that.  So he's not willing to tolerate or entertain other opinions that are to the contrary.  For example, he does not want to talk to the secular parties of the country - to Benazir Bhutto, to Nawaz Sharif - he is talking only to MMA - the Islamic religious parties - believing that they are more sincere, and believing that he can talk to them.  He has a bad chemistry with Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif and this is not a good thing for the leader of a country to do.  Because it cuts out many options - not just for him, but for the future of the country.

NBC: Sounds a bit like the definition of a dictator.

PH:  There is little doubt that General Musharraf is a dictator - he may not be the worst kind of dictator.  And in fact what we've seen in our history, General Zia ul-Haq and General Ayub Khan who were certainly - who certainly did not have the kinds of qualities that Musharraf had.  And so if one was to choose between dictators, certainly one would take Musharraf in comparison to Zia ul-Haq, but the fact is they're both dictators, they took power through the force of arms and not through the popular mandate.

NBC: Who do you think was responsible for the attempts on his life?

PH: The government has now said that it is the Jaish-i-Mohammed and the Lashkar-i-Taiba which were responsible for the assassination attempts of General Musharraf's life. Now what’s curious - what's interesting is that these were the very institutions which had been nurtured by the Pakistani state in fighting the Indian forces in Kashmir.  And they have now played havoc within the country itself.  They have not just attempted to assassinate General Musharraf, they are also responsible for murders in the country of Shi'as, of other peoples, and they are the most dangerous forces that have been unleashed in the country today.  It is a Frankenstein effect – it’s a blowback.  And the Pakistan army is responsible for that.

NBC: Can you explain this Frankenstein effect a bit more?

PH: The United States and Pakistan created the Frankenstein of jihad in the attempt to defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion in 1979. The US and Pakistan organized the greatest global jihad in history.  And so what we had at that time was Islamic fighters being invited from all over the world - from Algeria and Egypt and Morocco - everywhere in the Arab world, the fiercest ones, the most ideologically charged ones. They came to Afghanistan, they fought, and they helped defeat the Soviets. Among those who helped defeat the Soviets were Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri and other luminaries. What we are seeing now are the remnants of the Afghan jihad transported into Pakistan, trained by Pakistan to fight the war in Kashmir, and now we are seeing the blowback from that.  Because these jihadi forces, as they become restrained and constrained by the Pakistan government because of international pressures - they are training their guns upon the Pakistani government itself.

NBC: Do you think the assassination attempts on General Musharraf were part of some larger conspiracy, or were they just intended to spread general chaos?

PH: Had the attempt on General Musharraf succeeded, I have no doubt that there would have been an extended period of chaos within Pakistan.  Certainly the army would've taken over, the next in command - whoever he is - could've taken over, but then could that person have stayed on longer?  Would there have been a coup against him?  How would the United States have reacted?  How would the Pakistani people have reacted?  All these are issues which one has no substantial degree of prediction.  So I think that had the attempt succeeded we would've seen Pakistan in chaos for the next few years.

NBC: Would that chaos have provided fertile ground for the jihadis?

PH: Not only would the chaos have been a fertile ground for the jihadis, but certainly India would've taken advantage of the situation. The United States would've been perturbed about Pakistan's nuclear weapons, and would certainly have acted in some manner - nobody knows at this point how either India or the United States would've acted.  So it's very hard for anyone to say what would've happened, had the assassination attempt succeeded.

NBC: Some used to believe that the United States would not have intervened had India decided to invade Pakistan. Do you think Musharraf has turned that around since 9/11, or do you think that a scenario like that is possible?

PH: I do not think that India would ever get a green light from the United States to invade Pakistan. Knowing that Pakistan has nuclear weapons and knowing that they are usable, I do not think that a deliberate decision could be made by the Indian leadership, or the Pakistani leadership to go to war against each other. The fact that there are nuclear weapons, I think, makes that highly improbable, although the chances of accidental nuclear war are substantial. Now General Musharraf has certainly improved relations with the United States and so there is less asymmetry now between India and Pakistan in terms of how they relate to the U.S. However, it's rather clear that in the long term, the U.S. views India as its partner - and not Pakistan - because it sees India as not just a big market, but also one that has many more opportunities to offer to it. It has a very large manpower base, Indian corporations have attracted a great deal of America investment and there's a lot of outsourcing from U.S. firms to India now and so forth. There's cooperation now in space, in military technologies - and so this asymmetry is bound to grow.

NBC:  So are nuclear weapons a good thing, if they're acting as a deterrent to another Indo-Pak war?

PH:  Nuclear weapons act as a deterrent, there's no doubt about that. But India and Pakistan have had four nuclear crises. In each one of them, nuclear weapons did act to prevent war. However the question is will it always work?  There's a theorem of - probability theory, which says that if there's a finite chance for an event to occur, and if the repetition is often enough, you’re going to have that event actually occur. So nuclear weapons, although they prevent war, yet the finite possibility of their being used is I think too dangerous a concept to live with.  
In 1987 we had a crisis between India and Pakistan which was deterred by nuclear weapons from becoming a war.  Then again in May of 1990.  In 1999, the Kargil crisis.  That too had the possibility of becoming a war. In 2002 after the attack on the Indian parliament, we had a million troops on both sides of the border - India and Pakistan - facing each other, eyeball to eyeball. Nuclear weapons had been readied for use.  The fact that there was not a war of course owes to the fact that nuclear weapons existed on both sides.  But we cannot be happy about this, b/c there is always the chance that there will be a fatal miscalculation, there'll be false information, and then - there's nothing that can be done.  Then it'll be catastrophe.

NBC: 2002 appears to have been the closest though, wasn’t it?

PH: 2002 was the most long drawn out crisis, but 1991 was very dangerous as well. That was the time when according to President Clinton and his special assistant Bruce Reedell, Pakistan had readied its nuclear weapons for use. And the mobile missiles that are in Pakistan's arsenal had been sent out.  If that is true, if that is information based upon real facts, then I believe that India and Pakistan really had a close shave then.

NBC: Some say that India was "locked and loaded" in 2002.

PH: There is no doubt that India and Pakistan both possess nuclear weapons that are deliverable and that, in times of crises, can be readied for use in a matter of days, or a matter of hours.  And then it's only a question of releasing the locks and sending the missiles on their way.  Now with time, as the countries make more bombs and more missiles and move closer to the nuclear edge, I believe the dangers will increase substantially.

NBC: Is the fear of nuclear war one of the reasons Musharraf and Vajpayee are now moving closer together?

PH: Actually I believe that the recent peace overtures and the easing in the climate between the  two countries, although its very welcome, has nothing to do with addressing the issues of war b/t the two countries, or the issue of the arms race. Both countries are committed to enhancing their nuclear capabilities, to enhancing their delivery capabilities, and India has very recently purchased a number of AWAK aircrafts, the green pine radar system and so forth - and it is set to spend something like a hundred billion dollars over the next seven years for major defense purchases, and Pakistan is going to try to follow suit, do as best as it can.  I don't believe that anyone is talking about a substantial change in Pakistan or India's nuclear posture as a result of these peace talks, and the nice things they're saying to each other at the moment. Let's hope that as the climate improves at some point they do start talking about this very important thing, but as yet there's nothing.

NBC: You've written about the ignorance in both countries about what the effect of a nuclear attack would really be; describe that lack of understanding.

PH: There are roughly speaking two kinds of popular images or thoughts about nuclear war. One is that it's totally apocalyptic so that after that, there's no country, no world left anymore - it's the end of the universe.  And it's something that's so beyond the imagination that nobody wants to think about it. And so b/c it is beyond the imagination people don’t waste their time thinking about it, its just something outside the realm of possibilities.  And then there's another popular country which is that nuclear weapons, well they're just bigger bombs. Very few people know about the effects of radiation. The fact that if you use nuclear weapons against a city the destruction will not be instantaneous but will be spread out over days and months and years and will make it next to impossible to have any kind of return to civilization for a very, very long time. That sort of thing is not thought about. There's no concept of civil defense.  Now civil defense is an interesting thing to think about, because of course there's one point of view that if you prepare for civil defense you can create the illusion that you can survive nuclear war - that's the downside. But there's a plus side to it - which is that at least it forces you think about the consequences of nuclear weapons. Now in Pakistan and in India, nobody has done a survey - nobody has tried to estimate the effects of nuclear weapons should they be used against the population.

NBC: Are nuclear weapons a sort of badge of honor for Pakistan?

PH:  In a sense, Pakistan is rather unusual in that it has celebrated nuclear weapons to the extent that no other country in the world has. Yes there were celebrations in India and they were widespread, but they cannot compare with the systematic state-sponsored celebrations not just then, but a year later as well - the fact that monuments have been erected to the bomb, and the fact that nuclear heroes are really worshipped.  To my mind, this is tragic.  It has been orchestrated by the Pakistani state, and the Pakistani state bears responsibility for making nuclear weapons an object of worship.  Now that events in the world have forced Pakistan to withdraw from that position, there is, one sees, a certain level of distancing from this position. And now, as you know, the nuclear heroes are under investigation.

NBC:  Is it credible for a head of state to claim he never knew that AQ Khan was involved in the development/or possible provision of information to other states of nuclear information?

PH: There's little doubt that nuclear secrets have been shared by AG Khan and other Pakistani bomb makers with North Korea, with Iran, Libya perhaps.  I do not think that this could be just an issue of personal greed - of the bomb makers wanting to make a fast buck - its got to be much  more than that.  Because the bomb makers and the bomb factories and the enrichment plant and everything - was under the strictest possible control - it was a multi-tiered layer of security - all under the supervision of the army. Nothing could get out from there without the army security knowing about it. No scientist, bomb maker or whoever could meet with anyone without that conversation being fully reported on. There's no question of such people being allowed to travel overseas without the closest supervision at every point.  And so there is complicity - complicity of the state. And that's what nobody's willing to talk about it.

NBC: How much of it is just Pakistani nationalism, and how much of it supports the theory of a potential wish for a larger, nuclear-armed Islamic bloc with Pakistan at the head?

PH: In 1990 I wrote an article for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist in which I asked the question, is there such a thing as an Islamic bomb?  And I came to the conclusion at that time that although Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto - prime minister of Pakistan at that time had talked about the idea of an Islamic bomb, and although the Islamic parties wanted a bomb, nevertheless, an Islamic bomb did not exist.  But now I think that the world situation ahs changed.  And that Muslims the world over feel targeted.  And they would welcome the idea of Pakistan sharing its bomb with other Islamic countries, and that there are some in Pakistan - I would not say most - who would indeed want Pakistan to share the bomb.  And so when, after 9/11, when we saw two Pakistani nuclear scientists being intercepted when they went off to Afghanistan, I think that was an indication of the kind of sentiment that exists within the nuclear community in Pakistan.

NBC: These two scientists actually met with Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden in Aug of 2001- this, to me, might be the single biggest indicator of the existence, or pursuit of an Islamic bomb. is that accurate?

PH: Sultan Bashirudeen Mahmoud and Chaudray Majid they were highly placed members of the Pakistani nuclear establishment, and they had  - and certainly Mahmoud had opposed signing of the comprehensive test ban treaty, for which he was removed.  Their meeting with Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar was certainly a frightening development, I quite agree with you on that. However the question is how much real information did they have to give to them?  Certainly these two have been thoroughly investigated by the FBI and by the Pakistani authorities as well.  I think the conclusion is that there was not a whole lot that they could have communicated across. But this is perhaps just one of the instances - if there is more of this, then there would be cause for concern.

NBC: But it's also symbolism.

PH: This meeting is a cause for concern. It symbolizes the fact that there are many within the Pakistani nuclear establishment who do share the idea of a bomb for the Umma - for an Islamic bomb - and I think that that is indeed dangerous.  Of course the question is - why is there such a strong impetus for this? And this then, brings us to the issue of the growing conflict between the United States and Muslims the world over.  That’s a very, very significant conflict, and unless there's something done about that, I don’t think that nuclear dangers or the dangers of terrorism can ever be done away with.

NBC: How do you do that?

PH: There is a growing conflict between Muslims and the United States. Muslims see the United States as acting unilaterally, unfairly in regard to Israel - it is unfair in its dealing with the Palestinians.  And that is specifically targets Muslims in a variety of situations. And so there is growing anger, and of course, there is historical basis for this, if one goes back into the past, one sees that the US acted out of its national interests - subverted secular democratic governments such as that of Mossadeq in Iran and others the world over.  
On the other hand, I think that Muslims have to learn and live with the fact that they live in the 21st century, that they cannot apply the norms and ideals that apply to the 7th century. That Muslim women need to be able to live as other women in the world live - free of restrictions.  And that Muslims do have to learn that they are not the only ones on the planet and they must adapt to the cultural norms if they live in countries overseas, outside of their parent countries.  And so therefore there's got to be accommodations, a give and take on both sides. That’s not happening. The war on Iraq has polarized Muslim opinion to the point that I think it'll take a very long time for the wounds to heal.

NBC: Are you optimistic about the future of Pakistan, or is there the possibility that it becomes  failed state?

PH: I am neither an optimist or a pessimist as far as the future of Pakistan goes, I am merely a realist, I can only see what's around me and base my opinions on that. In some respects we are doing well - I'm very happy about the rapprochement with India - and I hope that it will last. I hope that we are eventually able to divert funds and resources away from war making and towards peace, and I see General Musharraf as doing some of the right things.  I think it’s a very good idea that he's had to abandon the philosophy of jihad and may now turn the army around in a different direction.
On the other hand, I think that we have to live with the legacy of General Zia ul Haq. The fact is that generations of school children have been poisoned and they have been brought up to believe in fantasy, and they have been brought up to hate.  And they have been brought up to block reason. That to me is dangerous - its something that can be catastrophic for the future of Pakistan. and to my mind the most important thing is to try and save its education system from the mullahs.  From those who want children to be programmed, to be brainwashed. So the question of pessimism and optimism to me is not one that occupies my mind very much. The fact is there' s work to be done. And the major work, in my mind, is in the area of education.

NBC: Do you think its true that many people in positions of influence in Pakistan are too motivated by fantasy, and ideas based in spirituality (such as they "study of heaven and hell") and that people motivated by reason and rationale (like you) are going to have a tough time turning that around?

PH: Nations have histories that extend over hundreds of years, perhaps more.  And if today, Pakistan is in a situation where one sees a lot of gloom around that doesn't mean its going to be the same 50 years, 100 years down the road. what this means is that people who believe in the triumph of reason as a logical eventuality, and you just have to work harder.  We have to know what to work at.  And to my mind, it is the educational system that has to be worked at - that has to be soundly addressed, and fought against at the moment, and changed. So, yes, there are all kinds of crazies in Pakistan - people who calculate the temperature of hell and the speed at which heaven is running away from us and so forth - but of course you have nutcases in countries all over the world, including in the United States.  So that’s not a reason to be depressed.
As I said, there are also good things happening within the country.  There is a realization that our education system has failed - that we have been locked into a situation in India in which there is possibility of victory.  And now that realization is penetrating into the army itself - who could've imagined that General Musharraf - the  man who initiated the Kargil war - to have turned around and to have embraced Prime Minister Vajpayee - and called him a man of peace?  So if things like this can happen in a mere space of five years, surely there's grounds for optimism in Pakistan, for all the world in fact.

NBC: Is Musharraf underestimated?

PH: General Musharraf is a man who has sprung many surprises, and frankly I think that this recent move with India that I did not expect - b/c having met him just a few months ago, I was taken aback by the visceral reaction he had to India and how from his insides he seemed to despise the Indians. I think its something very positive that he can transcend what he feels, what he's been brought up to feel, and move in a  direction that is good for the country, and good for the institution he represents - b/c today the Pakistan army cannot take on the Indian state or Indian army. And it is a survival instinct perhaps that is at work over there. But the very fact that he has allowed himself to be persuaded by reason, and to have, and to be prevailed upon by voices around him - that speaks very well of him.

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