Archive for May 20th, 2010

Ex-president Musharraf Vows Return to Pakistan Politics

As reported on Cnn

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf plans to return to Pakistan and to re-enter politics, he told CNN Thursday.

Musharraf declined to commit to seeking a particular office, telling CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that “the question… of whether I am running for president or prime minister will be seen later.”

But he strongly implied he wants to be prime minister.

“We run a parliamentary system there” Musharraf told Blitzer. “So you have to — your party has to win in the election. Then only do you decide to run.”

“Basically, you are heading the party, you are running for the prime ministership,” he said. “Because in Pakistan, the chief executive is the prime minister, not the president.”

Musharraf, who resigned as president under pressure in 2008 and left the country about a year ago, said he’s unsure about the exact timing of his return.

“It is related to the elections in Pakistan,” he said. “I am very sure of one thing, that whether it’s end-term elections or midterm elections, I will be there before those elections.”

Midterm elections could come next year, Musharraf said.

Musharraf also said that security concerns were shaping his decision on when to announce his return.

“Maybe my wife and my family (are) more worried than I am,” he said Thursday. “But there are security issues which one needs to take into consideration. And that is why I’m not laying down any dates for my return.”

“But,” he added, “I do intend launching and declaring my intentions formally sooner rather than later.”

The former Pakistani president took issue with a United Nations report released last month that said Musharraf’s government failed to protect former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto before her 2007 assassination.

“It was me who warned her about the threat to her,” Musharraf said. “It was I who stopped her from going to that venue once before, to which a lot of political aspersions were cast on me that her movements are being restricted. But she decided to go again.”

“All the security, wherever possible… by the police was provided to her,” he said.

Asked if he would do anything differently if he could relive the experience, Musharraf said, “I think the same would have been done.”

Musharraf also criticized the reported use of unmanned aircraft by the U.S. against militants in Pakistan, saying the “indiscriminate use of the drones… is having a negative impact in the public because of the collateral damage.”

He said the attacks could be radicalizing Pakistanis and referred to Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American charged with the failed Times Square bombing. “I wonder whether this Faisal Shahzad incident… has he been affected by indiscriminate bombing by the drones,” he said.

Musharraf also expressed support for the Pakistani government’s decision to block access to Facebook this week in response to an online group calling on people to draw the Prophet Mohammed.

“You cannot have photographs of the Prophet Mohammed — leave aside going for cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed,” Musharraf said. “It’s most unfortunate. We must understand, these are sensitive issues. And for the sake of independence of media, liberty of speech, we cannot hurt sensitivities of millions of people.”

Pakistan Blocks Facebook Over Contest to Draw Prophet Muhammad

By Farhan Sharif and Paul Tighe for Bloomberg Businessweek

Pakistan blocked a section of Facebook Inc., the world’s largest social-networking service, citing plans for a “blasphemous” competition inviting users to draw caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

The Lahore High Court imposed the ban until May 31 and asked Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry to protest to the international community over the competition, the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan said on its website yesterday.

Pakistan needs an effective plan to prevent anti-Islam elements “hurting the sentiments of Muslims,” APP cited religious affairs minister Saeed Kazmi, as saying in Islamabad. Protesters gathered in Karachi holding banners and shouting slogans against Facebook yesterday and people circulated text messages asking users of the site in Pakistan to support the ban.

Cartoons depicting Muhammad in a Danish newspaper in 2005, provoked protests by Muslim communities around the world including Pakistan, home to the world’s second-largest Muslim population after Indonesia. Depictions of the prophet are considered blasphemous by Muslims.

A Facebook user set up a page called “Draw Mohammed Day,” allegedly inviting people to send in their caricatures of the Muslim prophet by today, Agence France-Presse reported.

Kazmi called on Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to organize a meeting of Muslim countries and create a united policy for dealing with anti-Islamic moves, APP reported.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Regulatory Authority imposed the ban after the high court ruling.

“We were instructed by the Ministry of Information Technology to block a link,” Khurram Mehran, spokesman for the Pakistan Telecommunication Regulatory Authority, said by telephone from Islamabad yesterday.

The cartoons of the prophet printed in Danish newspapers in 2005 included one of him with a bomb in his turban and accompanied an article on freedom of speech and self-censorship in the media.

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