LONDON: Co-chairman of the ruling party Asif Ali Zardari accused President Pervez Musharraf that he misappropriated hundreds of millions of dollars of American aid given for supporting the war on terror.
Mr Zardari made the charge in an interview with The Sunday Times correspondent Christina Lamb. He also detailed for the first time President Musharraf’s attempts to sabotage his government which, he said, forced him to take the drastic step of demanding his impeachment. In the meantime the impending impeachment battle has plunged Pakistan into further instability. Zardari said he had been left with no option after Musharraf refused to accept an honourable exitZardari was speaking from the house in Islamabad from where Benazir Bhutto set off for her last rally.
“Our grand old Musharraf has not been passing on all the $1 billion a year that the Americans have been giving for the armed forces,” he claimed. “The army has been getting $250m-$300m reimbursement for what they do, but where’s the rest? “They claim it’s been going in budget support but that’s not the answer. We’re talking about $700m a year missing. The rest has been taken by ‘Mush’ for some scheme or other and we’ve got to find it.”
Mr Zardari claimed the American aid might have gone to fund rogue members of the military intelligence, the ISI, who were last week accused by Washington of assisting Taliban and other groups rather than rooting them out. Last Tuesday Sharif told Zardari that he would withdraw his support for the coalition unless the president was removed. The following night the impeachment plan was announced at a joint press conference. It follows criticism by the United States during the [PPP] government’s trip to Washington 10 days ago for failing to rein in the intelligence services still supporting the [imaginary] Taliban.
“We’re looking for the money,” he said. “I think he (Musharraf) has a slush fund being used for this and for some activity for the future.” Mr Zardari also accused the president of economic sabotage and fomenting conflict in Balochistan and the tribal areas.“They spent all the money so we would have to borrow; they didn’t pass on the increased price of oil; nor added a single extra megawatt of power in the last 10 years. All these things were deliberately thought out so at the end of day they can turn round and tell the world. ‘Look, democracy doesn’t deliver’, and step back in.”
“I know I’m in danger,” he said. “Whoever killed her (Benazir Bhutto) wants to kill me.” She is all around me, I live with her,” Zardari said. “I have not touched one thing in her bedroom, her manuscript [of her last book] is lying on her side and I sleep on my side.”
“To say we’re responsible for the country, yes we are, but first get your role model out of the way, remove your most allied of allies,” said Mr Zardari. “They’ve had Musharraf there 10 years, instead of bringing these issues up with him they are trying to bring them up with us today.”
Mr Zardari warned against a possible sacking of parliament by Musharraf, saying: “If he does it, it will be his last verdict against the people, the people’s mandate and against Pakistan.”