Thu Apr 27, 10:22 PM ET
Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf has rejected accusations he is a Western “poodle,” saying his fight against Islamic militants is for his country’s benefit, not for the United States or Britain.
“I am nobody’s poodle,” he said in an interview with Britain’s Guardian newspaper on Friday. “I have enough strength of my own to lead.
“When you talk about fighting terrorism or extremism, I am not doing that for the U.S. or Britain, I am doing it for Pakistan.”
Musharraf, an important ally in the U.S.-led war on terrorism, has faced repeated opposition protests about his relationship with President Bush.
A 10,000-strong crowd gathered in the central Punjab region last month to hear opposition leader Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman call a visit by Bush an attempt at “enslaving the Pakistani nation and rewarding General Musharraf for his patriotism to America.”
Newspapers have carried critical pieces on U.S. foreign policy in Pakistan and one has a “Mush & Bush” column lampooning the two leaders’ relationship.
Asked by the Guardian if he had the “teeth” to bite back at his Western allies, Musharraf said: “Yes sir, I personally do — a lot of teeth. Sometimes the teeth do not have to be shown. Pragmatism is required in international relations.”
Pakistan has captured or killed hundreds of al Qaeda members since Musharraf joined a U.S.-led war on terrorism after the September 11 attacks on the United States.
Anger has been building in Pakistan over repeated U.S. attacks in the country, including an airstrike in January which killed 18 civilians in the remote Bajaur region.
Musharraf told the Guardian: “The strike was an infringement of our sovereignty and I condemned it.”
Source: Reuters via Yahoo! News