Musharraf to VOA: Karzai Statement

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has told a popular Voice of America TV program he just can’t understand what was behind a controversial statement made by Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday.

Mr. Musharraf, who appeared on Monday’s edition of “The Platform,” a co-production of VOA and the Pakistani cable network, “Express 24/7,” was questioned about President Karzai’s recent statement that “Afghanistan will side with Pakistan,” if ever there is a war between Pakistan and the United States.

Mr. Musharraf described the statement as “preposterous,” saying, “I just don’t understand…I think this must be crazy, I don’t agree with this statement at all.”

Mr. Musharraf, who appeared on the program with former U.S. Senator Bob Graham, took a series of questions from a live studio audience in the Pakistani city of Lahore.

Asked what it would take to bring peace to Afghanistan, Mr. Musharraf called for a more inclusive government in Kabul, one that includes more ethnic Pashtuns in key leadership positions. “I’m afraid we have to have a balanced Pashtun-dominated government in Afghanistan, whatever it takes, because Pashtuns have always ruled Afghanistan, we cannot ignore their presence.”

Senator Graham and President Musharraf also discussed the U.S. Pakistan relationship, and both said the two countries had many common interests. Mr. Graham said the two would have to work at improving “day-to-day” relations.

Mr. Musharraf said ties between Washington and Islamabad were perhaps at their “lowest ebb,” and both he and Senator Graham said the U.S. use of drones to strike at terrorist targets had added to the strains.

The joint VOA / Express 24/7 program, which is broadcast on cable in Pakistan Monday and Tuesday evenings, offers viewers a chance to submit their own questions to U.S. and Pakistani newsmakers, who also take questions from program hosts as well as the studio audience in Lahore.

For highlights and links to the show, visit The Platform’s Facebook page or visit the VOA Urdu language webpage at www.voanews.com. For more information about this release, email Kyle King in Washington at kking@voanew.com. An online version of this release is available at www.insidevoa.com.

For more information, please call VOA Public Relations at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail us at askvoa@voanews.com. Follow us on Twitter @VOABuzz and Facebook at InsideVOA.

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