PALO ALTO, Calif. – Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said Friday that anyone involved in November's terrorist attacks in Mumbai must be punished, but warned that "hysteria" in India over the deadly siege threatens stability on the Indian subcontinent.
"If there is proof, there must be action," Musharraf said during a speaking event at Stanford University. But he added, "Let us not get hyper about it and whip up hysteria in the country so that the process of peace gets totally disrupted."
The Pakistani government has arrested scores of suspects, shut down extremist Web sites and closed suspected militant training camps after an investigation linked the Mumbai attacks to a Pakistan-based militant group. But many Indian and international officials say not enough is being done to bring the perpetrators to justice or crack down on extremist groups operating in Pakistan.
Musharraf, Pakistan's leader from 1999 to 2008, offered his thoughts on combating terrorism, the roots of Islamic extremism, the state of Indian-Pakistani relations and other issues at Stanford University, where he gave a speech and answered questions from students. The former military ruler is on his first speaking tour in the United States since he resigned as Pakistan's president in August to avoid impeachment.
Musharraf said while it was important to bring extremist groups under control, it was even more important to resolve the dispute over the territory of Kashmir — an issue he says has inflamed tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors and given rise to militant groups.
Musharraf said that poverty, illiteracy and political alienation — as well as political disputes over Palestine, Kashmir and other territories — were among the root causes of terrorism, and those issues had to be addressed in order to rid the world of terrorists.
"We always talk of clearing the leaves and branches, but we never talk of the root," Musharraf said.
He urged the U.S. and the international community to offer more financial and political support to help Pakistan combat terrorism and extremism in his country.
"The people of Pakistan are fed up with these suicide bombers and these extremists. They demand their elimination," he said. "Pakistan's success in fighting terrorism is vital for the whole world."