FORMER President Musharraf's talk to reporters at Islamabad on Monday deals with basically three issues, which cannot simply be ignored in view of the paramount importance they carry for the nation. Whether he sees a plot being hatched against the Army and the ISI to weaken the country, denies the accusation of double-dealing against him in fighting the War On Terror or pooh-poohs the allegation of holding out a threat to PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto that her security depended upon keeping good relations with him, ought to be analysed on the basis of available facts. General Musharraf crossed all limits in engaging Army officials of all ranks, serving as well as retired, in civilian duties carrying lots of perks and privileges, and notwithstanding the media warnings that the practice was depriving the armed forces of the guidance of experienced hands, he did not reverse the trend. The sinister motive of perpetuating his own rule by maintaining influence among them overruled the dire needs of the defence of the country. It is an open secret that during most of his tenure, the ISI was assigned the unedifying duty of pressurising the opponents of his regime to fall in line, which tended to besmirch its reputation as an exemplary intelligence institution and diverted its focus from its main role as the 'front line of the country's defence'. He could not, therefore, absolve himself from playing into the hands of conspirators who, he believes, wanted to weaken the country. On the face of it, his rebuttal of double-dealing in the War On Terror on the grounds that he was attacked three times by the militants and the army lost 1,500 soldiers sounds quite plausible. But author David Sanger is not the first to level that charge. There had been such accusations aplenty during his time, emanating from US think tanks and Administration officials who were at least blaming "rogue elements" in the ISI for helping the Taliban. Repeated denials of any such involvement did not remove that impression. In fact, according to some sources, the US began using drones because it distrusted the ISI for keeping the intelligence of targets secret. One would look forward to the outcome of investigations into the assassination of Benazir Bhutto to establish whether he did hurl the threat, while talking to her on telephone, that her security depended upon keeping good relations with him. It is a great pity that the present government had little choice but to let General Musharraf off rather than take him to task for the grievous failings of his regime.