Fmr. Pakistan president speaks at Stanford

January 16, 2009 7:28:42 PM PST
Five months after resigning as president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf stood before a packed house in Stanford University's Memorial Auditorium and described the war on terrorism as a fight against the leaves and branches of a tree.

"Branches and leaves will keep growing unless we uproot the tree from the root," Musharraf said.

Musharraf described the roots of terrorism as illiteracy, poverty and unresolved political disputes.

"The Arab psyche is terribly hurt by Palestine and the Muslim youth is extremely angry," Musharraf said.

Some of the audience was also extremely angry and expressed their anger during a 45 minute question and answer session.

"Given that you came to power illegally, given that you illegally twice suspended the constitution of Pakistan, given that you have consistently undermined the judiciary system in your country," one attendee's question began.

Musharraf said his critics were misinformed. When a man from India asked about Pakistan's involvement in the terrorist bombing in Mumbai, Musharraf said India must be magnanimous.

"For this kind of war, hysteria must stop and this kind of attitude to bully Pakistan cannot succeed," Musharraf said.

Musharraf accused the people of India of wanting war.

"The Pakistani government or the Pakistani army in particular cannot escape its own responsibility to control what goes on within the Pakistani state and society," Amandeep Gill said. Gill is a member of the Indian Foreign Service, a former director of international security in the Indian state department and a visiting scholar at Stanford.

Security at Stanford was tight, but there were no protestors. Tickets to hear Musharraf were handed out to students over the past week, but people on campus said there was very little fanfare about his coming.