Posts Tagged ‘Osama bin Laden’

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9/11 – Could we have decided otherwise?

August 24, 2011

By Pervez Musharraf – former President of Pakistan

Pakistan’s decision to join the US and the Coalition in Afghanistan in their attack on the Taliban remains a subject of intense debate. This is the decision we took after a thorough, deliberate and realistic appraisal of the obtaining geo-strategic realities, but it has drawn criticism and praise alike. With the latest upsurge in terrorist activity in Pakistan, the debate on the post-9/11 response of Pakistan has intensified. I, therefore, thought it my duty to lay bare facts in front of the people of Pakistan, so that with all the necessary information they could judge the situation more accurately. The decision of my government was indeed based on, and in conformity with, my slogan of ‘Pakistan First’.
Some people suggested that we should oppose the United States and favour the Taliban. Was this, in any way, beneficial for Pakistan? Certainly not! Even if the Taliban and Al-Qaeda emerged victorious, it would not be in Pakistan’s interest to embrace obscurantist Talibanisation. That would have meant a society where women had no rights, minorities lived in fear and semi-literate clerics set themselves up as custodians of justice. I could have never accepted this kind of society for Pakistan. In any case, judging by military realities one was sure that the Taliban would be defeated. It would have been even more detrimental for Pakistan to be standing on the defeated side.
The United States, the sole superpower, was wounded and humiliated by the 9/11 Al-Qaeda terrorist attack. A strong retaliatory response against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan was imminent.

I was angrily told, by the US, that Pakistan had to be ‘either with us or against us’. The message was also conveyed to me that ‘if Pakistan was against the United States then it should be prepared to be bombed back to the Stone Age.’

This was the environment within which we had to take a critical decision for Pakistan. My sole focus was to make a decision that would benefit Pakistan in the long run, and also guard it against negative effects.

What options did the US have to attack Afghanistan? Not possible from the north, through Russia and the Central Asian Republics. Not from the west, through Iran. The only viable direction was from the east, through Pakistan. If we did not agree, India was ever ready to afford all support. A US-India collusion would obviously have to trample Pakistan to reach Afghanistan. Our airspace and land would have been violated. Should we then have pitched our forces, especially Pakistan Air Force, against the combined might of the US and Indian forces? India would have been delighted with such a response from us. This would surely have been a foolhardy, rash and most unwise decision. Our strategic interests – our nuclear capability and the Kashmir cause – would both have been irreparably compromised. We might even have put our very territorial integrity at stake.

The economic dimension of confronting the United States and the West also needed serious analysis. Pakistan’s major export and investment is to and from the United States and the European Union. Our textiles, which form 60 percent of our export and earnings, go to the West. Any sanctions on these would have crippled our industry and choked our economy. Workers would lose their jobs. The poor masses of Pakistan would have been the greatest sufferers.

China, our great friend, also has serious apprehensions about Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The upsurge of religious extremism emboldening the East Turkistan Islamic Movement in China is due to events in Afghanistan and the tribal agencies of Pakistan. China would certainly not be too happy with Pakistan on the side of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Even the Islamic Ummah had no sympathy for the Taliban regime; countries like Turkey and Iran were certainly against the Taliban. The UAE and Saudi Arabia – the only two countries other than Pakistan that had recognised the Taliban regime – had become so disenchanted with the Taliban that they had closed their missions in Kabul.

Here, I would also like to clear the notion that we accepted all the demands put forward by USA.

On September 13th 2001, the US Ambassador to Pakistan, Wendy Chamberlain, brought me a set of seven demands. These demands had also been communicated to our Foreign Office by the US State Department.

1. Stop Al-Qaeda operatives at your borders, intercept arms shipments through Pakistan, and end all logistical support for bin Laden.
2. Provide the United States with blanket overflight and landing rights to conduct all necessary military and intelligence operations.
3. Provide territorial access to the United States and allied military intelligence as needed, and other personnel to conduct all necessary operations against the perpetrators of terrorism and those that harbour them, including the use of Pakistan’s naval ports, air bases, and strategic locations on borders.
4. Provide the United States immediately with intelligence, immigration information and databases, and internal security information, to help prevent and respond to terrorist acts perpetrated against the United States, its friends, or its allies.
5. Continue to publicly condemn the terrorist acts of September 11 and any other terrorist acts against the United States or its friends and allies, and curb all domestic expressions of support [for terrorism] against the United States, its friends, or its allies.
6. Cut off all shipments of fuel to the Taliban and any other items and recruits, including volunteers, en route to Afghanistan, who can be used in a military offensive capacity or to abet a terrorist threat.
7.Should the evidence strongly implicate Osama bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan and should Afghanistan and the Taliban continue to harbour him and his network, Pakistan will break diplomatic relations with the Taliban government, end support for the Taliban, and assist the United States in the afore-mentioned ways to destroy Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network.Some of these demands were ludicrous, such as “curb all domestic expressions of support [for terrorism] against the United States, its friends, and its allies.” How could my government suppress public debate, when I had been trying to encourage freedom of expression?

I also thought that asking us to break off diplomatic relations with Afghanistan if it continued to harbour Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda was not realistic, because not only would the United States need us to have access to Afghanistan, at least until the Taliban fell, but such decisions are the internal affair of a country and cannot be dictated by anyone. But we had no problem with curbing terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. We had been itching to do so before the United States became its victim.

We just could not accept demands two and three. How could we allow the United States “blanket overflight and landing rights” without jeopardising our strategic assets? I offered only a narrow flight corridor that was far from any sensitive areas. Neither could we give the United States “use of Pakistan’s naval ports, air bases, and strategic locations on borders.” We refused to give any naval ports or fighter aircraft bases. We allowed the United States only two bases – Shamsi in Balochistan and Jacobabad in Sindh – and only for logistics and aircraft recovery. No attack could be launched from there. We gave no “blanket permission” for anything.

The rest of the demands we could live with. I am happy that the US government accepted our counterproposal without any fuss. I am shocked at the aspersion being cast on me: that I readily accepted all preconditions of the United States during the telephone call from Colin Powell. He did not give any conditions to me. These were brought by the US ambassador on the third day.

Having made my decision, I took it to the Cabinet. Then I began meeting with a cross section of society. Between September 18 and October 3, I met with intellectuals, top editors, leading columnists, academics, tribal chiefs, students, and the leaders of labour unions. On October 18, I also met a delegation from China and discussed the decision with them. Then I went to army garrisons all over the country and talked to the soldiers. I thus developed a broad consensus on my decision.

This was an analysis of all the losses/harms we would have suffered. if we had taken an anti-US stand. At the same time, I obviously analysed the socio-economic and military gains that would accrue from an alliance with the West. I have laid down the rationale for my decision in all its details. Even with hindsight, now, I do not repent it. It was correct in the larger interest of Pakistan. I am confident that the majority of Pakistanis agree with it.

Source: The Nation

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U.S. officials, former Pakistan leader worry about latest split

July 22, 2011

Washington (CNN) — With U.S.-Pakistan relations in the deep freeze, former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and American officials called Thursday for a thaw.

“Blame games, rigidity, arrogance, insensitivity to each other’s national interests is certainly very counter-productive,”Musharraf said in Washington. “It definitely saddens me to see the deteriorating Pakistan-United States relations,” he said in a speech at the Woodrow Wilson International Center.

Twelve weeks have passed since American commandos killed Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan, an event that dramatically widened the rift between the two countries.

Musharraf denied he knew during his time as president or later that bin Laden was hiding out in Pakistan. “Whether one believes it or not, let me say with confidence, I did not know,” he declared.

He suggested that it was negligence and not complicity of the Pakistan government that allowed bin Laden to stay there undetected.

“If there was complicity this is very, very serious indeed,” Musharraf said. “I think the UN and the United States have all the right to be against Pakistan if it ultimately comes to believe that … people were hiding him, people were complicit in it,” Musharraf said.

The former president and general, who has been living in London, pledged to return to Pakistan next March for a political comeback in 2013, in what he called “the mother of all elections.”

David Petraeus, making his way home from Afghanistan where he was commanding general and soon to start his new job as CIA director, reportedly told a Paris audience yesterday he also is worried about relations with Pakistan. He just completed a visit there and said the relationship is at a difficult stage but the U.S. must continue efforts to work with Pakistan, recognizing what it has done in the fight against terror.

Meanwhile in Washington, top U.S. military leaders told senators of their concerns about Pakistan.

The soldier poised to take over as chief of staff of the Army, Gen. Ray Odierno, said militants hiding out in Pakistan along the Afghanistan border are a major security challenge facing the United States.

Adm. James Winnefeld, tapped as the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Pakistan must do more to crack down on insurgents like the Haqqani network.

“Pakistan is a very, very difficult partner and we all know that. We don’t always share the same world view or the same opinions or the same national interests,” Winnefeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “I think we need to continued pressure on Pakistan using all elements of pressure that we’re able to apply to what really should be a friend to get them to realize that the Haqqani network poses a threat to their own country and to take the steps that we’ve asked them to take.”

Former congresswoman and Wilson Center director Jane Harmon said both the United States and Pakistan have made mistakes and miscalculations.

“Nothing is irreparable and this relationship has got to be fixed,” Harmon said after Musharraf’s speech.

“I think some tough love is required, I think there needs to be a more honest and straight relationship,” Harmon said. “The Pakistanis have grievances, but we clearly have grievances too.”

Source: CNN

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Musharraf calls for bridging trust deficit

June 10, 2011

WASHINGTON, June 9 (UPI) — The most urgent need in the strained U.S.-Pakistan relations is to restore mutual trust, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said.

In a 1,700-word column written for CNN, the former military ruler, now living in exile in Britain, said his country finds itself “in the eye of the terrorism storm” while an “environment of controversies, contradictions, distortions and mutual suspicions prevails all around, polluting and weakening the war on terror.”

Musharraf, who took power in Pakistan after a bloodless military coup in 1999 and now seeks to return home to run for office, said the current environment does not bode well for the global war on terror.

“The first and most urgent need of the hour is to restore trust. We must speak the truth with each other very openly and frankly. Pakistan needs to explain clearly why it is not acting against the Haqqani group (suspected of using Pakistani sanctuaries to attack coalition forces in Afghanistan) or when it will operate in North Waziristan.

“The intelligence agencies of Pakistan should be purged of any elements who may not be committed to the official line of fighting al-Qaida and the Taliban,” Musharraf said.

On Pakistanis’ “antipathy” toward the United States, Musharraf blamed it on the “abandonment” of his country after 1989 with a strategic shift of U.S. policy towards India and military sanctions against Pakistan. He said other reasons included the U.S.-India civilian nuclear deal, the U.S. military presence and operations in Afghanistan and its drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal regions.

On the finding of the al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in the garrison town of Abbottabad before he was killed by U.S. forces last month, Musharraf blamed Pakistan’s “incompetence and callousness of the highest degree” in not being aware of bin Laden’s presence and ruled out any complicity with the militants.

He said any suggestion of complicity in hiding bin Laden in the country for five years would also involve him when he was president.

“I knew nothing about it, and I cannot imagine in my wildest dreams that the intelligence agencies were hiding it from me,” he wrote.

He said the United States must “trust” that Pakistan is committed to fighting terrorism in its own interest.

“We, as a nation, have to boldly demonstrate our resolve towards moderation and rejection of extremism from within our society,” he said.

Source: UPI Asia

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APML issues legal notice to Guardian’s editor

May 18, 2011

From M Zulqernain Lahore, May 17 – Former President Pervez Musharraf’s party has issued a legal notice to British newspaper Guardian’s chief editor and a reporter for publishing what it described as a “fabricated” report on a secret agreement permitting the US to carry out a raid similar to the one that killed Osama bin Laden. The All Pakistan Muslim League said the legal notice was served in the context of a “fabricated” news report in ‘Guardian’ that said Musharraf had, during his regime, struck a secret deal with the US allowing unilateral raids in Pakistan against bin Laden and other al Qaida leaders. The legal notice contended that the report aimed to malign the former President and to stigmatize his political image in Pakistan. It said, “Guardian, without confirming the veracity and authenticity of the news item published it and made propaganda with intention to malign the former President of Pakistan. The news item not only damaged the reputation (of Musharraf) but it has also established a ridiculous impression that as if Pakistan and the US worked beyond the sphere of their domestic laws as well as the international law”. Taking advantage of the defamation campaign, the political opponents of Musharraf criticised him for point scoring and tried to damage his political image, the notice said. It claimed Musharraf, currently living in self-exile outside Pakistan, had not signed any secret deal with the US for unilateral raids in Pakistani territory and the ISI chief had acknowledged this during his briefing to parliament on Friday. The notice said Musharraf would file a suit seeking five million dollars as compensation if the daily did not retract the report.

Source: IBN Live

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US could have avoided Bin Laden tangle: Musharraf

October 20, 2010

WASHINGTON: Former president Pervez Musharraf said Tuesday that the United States may have been able to avoid its long hunt for Osama bin Laden if it had recognized Afghanistan’s Taliban regime.

Musharraf, who is trying to stage a political comeback, supports talks with “moderate Taliban” to find a settlement in Afghanistan where US-led forces have been fighting for more than nine years.

Pakistan was the chief supporter of the Taliban regime, which imposed a rigid brand of Islam over most of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. Musharraf reversed course overnight following the September 11 attacks.

“The world did not recognize them and we were being reprimanded for doing that,” Musharraf said at the Asia Society’s Texas Center in Houston.

“I always proposed that we need to have a different strategy. We need to recognize the Taliban and try to change them from within,” he said.

“Had we had 18 missions there, including the US mission, with the Taliban, I think we could have saved the Buddha statue and maybe we could have resolved this Osama bin Laden tangle. (It) may not have erupted, even,” he said.

Months ahead of the September 11 attacks, the Taliban defied global pressure and demolished world-famous, 1,500-year-old statues of the Buddha, considering them idolatrous in violation of Islam.

President Hamid Karzai recently set up a peace council to open up dialogue with the Taliban and broker peace in Afghanistan, where more than 150,000 US and Nato troops are deployed.

Musharraf sounded a note of vindication, saying he was accused of “double-dealing” when he advocated negotiations with the Taliban after the regime was toppled.

“The difference between now and then is now we are trying to do this from a position of weakness,” Musharraf said.

Pakistan has long faced US criticism for maintaining contact with Afghanistan’s Taliban, in what US analysts believe is a strategy by Islamabad to ensure it maintains influence in its neighbor.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were the only countries other than Pakistan that ever recognized the Taliban as Afghanistan’s government.

Source: Samaa TV

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Danger for Pakistan, India if US quits Afghanistan: Musharraf

September 25, 2009

* Washington must immediately send more troops to Afghanistan, be ready for casualties
* Calls Nawaz ‘closet Taliban’, says PML-N chief never speaks against terrorism, extremism

Daily Times Monitor

President MusharrafLAHORE: Pakistan and India will face great danger from Al Qaeda if the United States pulls out of Afghanistan, former president Pervez Musharraf said on Thursday.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Musharraf said a US pullout would result in an unstable Afghanistan.

“The country [Afghanistan] will become the centre of all Al Qaeda sanctuaries and consequently could extend its influence into Pakistan and possibly even India,” Musharraf said.

Troops: To a question on the US consideration of sending more troops to Afghanistan, he said US President Obama should have complied with Gen Stanley McChyrstal’s recommendation “yesterday”. “I think you should take it immediately. You should have taken it yesterday,” Musharraf said.

Musharraf said he “absolutely” believed there needed to be more troops in Afghanistan. But he said sending more troops could mean an increase in casualties, something the US should be prepared for.

“We must avoid casualties, as much as possible. But when soldiers move and armies act, casualties will be there, and we should accept casualties,” he said.

He said the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan should be mined, a proposition he termed “drastic”.

“As far as I’m concerned, we should mine it so that people can’t go across,” Musharraf said.

He called PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif “abrasive” and confrontational.

“He has never been on good terms with any president of Pakistan,” he said, adding that Nawaz was a “closet Taliban”.

“Even on Pakistan Television these days, talk shows are going on saying that he has met Osama Bin Laden five times – five times before 9/11 – and he has been financed by Osama,” Musharraf said. “Then the other element is that he never speaks against terrorism and extremism.”

Source: Daily Times

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SPIEGEL-INTERVIEW WITH PERVEZ MUSHARRAF

June 7, 2009

In a SPIEGEL interview, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, 65, discusses the dramatic situation in Pakistan, where army troops are fighting Islamist extremists in the Swat Valley, his people’s ambivalent relationship with the United States and his country’s failures in combating the Taliban.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Musharraf, there’s a bon mot that states that ruling Pakistan is like riding a tiger. You were in power for nine years. Are you bored now?

Musharraf: I recently was in Saudi Arabia, China and London giving lectures. I have engaged the famous Walker Agency …

SPIEGEL: … which Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and Gerhard Schröder all work with …

Musharraf: … In Prague, I am giving a lecture on leadership in front of high-level managers at a company which owns Pizza Hut and KFC.

SPIEGEL: Pakistan is in a major state of crisis. Close to 2.5 million people have fled the areas of fighting in the northwest and the Swat Valley. There are attacks almost daily. Is Pakistan on the verge of collapse?

Pervez MusharrafMusharraf: This is wrong. Nothing can happen to Pakistan as long as the armed forces are intact and strong. Anyone who wants to weaken and destabilize Pakistan just has to weaken the army and our intelligence service, ISI, and this is what is happening these days. Lots of articles have been written claiming that Pakistan will be divided, that it will fall apart or become Balkanized. I personally feel there is some kind of conspiracy going on with the goal of weakening our nation.

SPIEGEL: Who do you believe is behind this conspiracy?

Musharraf: I won’t tell you exactly because then you will ask me for evidence. I can only tell you that India, for example, has 16 insurgencies going on and nobody is making a big thing out of it. But the West always focuses on Pakistan as the problem.

SPIEGEL: United States President Barack Obama has promised a new beginning. He wants to chase and fight the Taliban and al-Qaida in Pakistan as well as Afghanistan and has enlargened the territory of operations. What do you think of this new strategy, which he calls AfPak?

Musharraf: I am totally against the term AfPak. I do not support the word itself for two reasons: First, the strategy puts Pakistan on the same level as Afghanistan. We are not. Afghanistan has no government and the country is completely destabilized. Pakistan is not. Second, and this is much more important, is that there is an Indian element in the whole game. We have the Kashmir struggle, without which extremist elements like Lashkar-e-Taiba would not exist.

SPIEGEL: This group is believed to have been responsible for the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Why should the US strategy also include India?

Musharraf: There are many Indian extremists who have links with extremists in Pakistan. So if the world is serious about combating terrorism, then don’t leave India out. Originally, Richard Holbrooke was supposed to be the US special representative for all three countries, but the strong Indian lobby in America prevented that.

SPIEGEL: Are you disappointed by Obama?

Musharraf: No, he is aiming at the right things. He is showing intentions of improving the dialogue with the Muslim world, which is good. He is right when he says that more forces must be deployed in Afghanistan. There is an intention of increasing funding for Pakistan, which is also good. But he also has to understand the reality in Pakistan and I am not sure he does.

SPIEGEL: And how is the situation?

Musharraf: One of the realities is that the Indian intelligence service RAW is interfering in our country. For example in Balochistan, our largest province bordering Iran and Afghanistan. One of the most brutal insurgents against our forces, Brahamdagh Bugti …

SPIEGEL: … the grandson of Nawab Bugti, a tribal leader who was killed three years ago in a battle with the Pakistani army …

Musharraf: … he is sitting in Kabul, protected by the Afghan government and provided with weapons and money by the Indian intelligence agency RAW. He has his own training camps and sends his fighters to Balochistan where they terrorize people and damage the civil infrastructure. RAW is also interfering in the Swat Valley, I know that. Where do all these Taliban fighters in Swat get their arms and money from? From Afghanistan. The Indian consulates in Jallalabad and Kandahar only exist to be a thorn in the side of Pakistan.

SPIEGEL: Let us talk about the role of the ISI. A short time ago, US newspapers reported that ISI has systematically supported Taliban groups. Is that true?

Musharraf: Intelligence always has access to other networks — this is what Americans did with KGB, this is what ISI also does. You should understand that the army is on board to fight the Taliban and al-Qaida. I have always been against the Taliban. Don’t try to lecture us about how we should handle this tactically. I will give you an example: Siraj Haqqani …

SPIEGEL: … a powerful Taliban commander who is allegedly secretly allied with the ISI.

Musharraf: He is the man who has influence over Baitullah Mehsud, a dangerous terrorist, the fiercest commander in South Waiziristan and the murderer of Benazir Bhutto as we know today. Mehsud kidnapped our ambassador in Kabul and our intelligence used Haqqani’s influence to get him released. Now, that does not mean that Haqqani is supported by us. The intelligence service is using certain enemies against other enemies. And it is better to tackle them one by one than making them all enemies.

SPIEGEL: Are the Americans and the Pakistanis still even pursuing the same goals?

Musharraf: The Americans are hated in the country today. The US drone attacks, which we have been living with for months now, are most unpopular — there is no doubt about it. Regardless whether they are killing terrorists, Taliban or Al-Qaida-figures or not, there are too many civilian victims. The deployment of drones has to be stopped.

SPIEGEL: The US military eliminated several high-ranking al-Qaida figures through drone attacks. What would be a possible alternative?

Musharraf: We have to find a way or method with which the Pakistani army could conduct these attacks itself. There would immediately be much better acceptance amongst the populace and we would cause less collateral damage and there would be fewer civilian victims.

SPIEGEL: If you were still in power, would you order attacks against powerful Taliban leaders?

Musharraf: I would not hesitate one second.

SPIEGEL: Even attacks on Taliban chief Mullah Omar, Osama bin Laden or influential Haqqani?

Musharraf: Certainly. The only thing I was concerned about was apprehending Osama bin Laden and putting him on trial within Pakistan. You need to understand the sensitivities in our country.

SPIEGEL: You yourself have been accused of distinguishing between good and bad Taliban — those fighting against Western and Afghan forces and those who attack the Pakistani army and police.

Musharraf: That is wrong, I fought all of them without distinction. But please understand that every action has political repercussions. You accuse me of not having taken action, but things are not always black and white — sometimes they are gray. I will give you an example, the Red Mosque, where religious militants assembled with their students in July 2007. Why didn’t I attack them earlier? The Red Mosque is located in an area that, politically, is dominated by Jamaat-i-Islami, a party which can bring masses of people to the streets all over Pakistan …

SPIEGEL: … and a party which in former times had been your political partner …

Musharraf: No, they have never been our political partner. Please understand, there are 14 madrasses in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. There would have been social unrest if we had immediately attacked the Red Mosque. We wanted to avoid a bloody tragedy and solve it peacefully. But we didn’t succeed and in the end we had to act. We undertook a military operation that resulted in under 100 deaths. There is currently a parallel case in Karachi. We know there is a madrassa with armed militants inside in a neighborhood called Banoori Town. Shall we go there, collect the weapons and just kill them all? Yes, it can be done. But then we would provoke significant ethnic vilence in Karachi. Therefore, it is not appropriate to do this at this time.

SPIEGEL: Is Pakistan now paying for its earlier failures? Why didn’t you eliminate the Taliban leadership when they came to Pakistan at the end of 2001 — above all the so-called Quetta Shura, the Taliban’s highest decision-making council, in the Pakistani city Quetta?

Musharraf: The Quetta Shura never existed. Do you really think there is an assembly in a kind of a house where they come and discuss things in something like a regular consultation? Mullah Omar never was in Pakistan and he would be mad if he appeared there. He is much safer in Afghanistan.

SPIEGEL: Over the last eight years, Pakistan has received about $10 billion in military aid from the US. Apparently you didn’t spend all that money on the war on terror — some went to secure your eastern border with India. Is that true?

Musharraf: Half of it, $5 billion, was reimbursed to us for services we had already rendered to the US. You have to understand how the Pakistan army operates: The divisions keep moving. If we buy new tanks for $250 million, then they will be deployed in Peshawar as part of the war on terror, but they will also go to the eastern border. But why do you care about that? Why, for heaven’s sake, should I tell you how we spent the money?

SPIEGEL: The American government would surely be interested in knowing.

Musharraf: I also told the Americans that it has nothing to do with them. We are not obligated to give out any details. Maybe I should have said at the time: Ok, you want us to support you, give us $20 billion a year and don’t ask what we are doing with it.

SPIEGEL: Why is it so hard for Pakistan to recognize the war against terror as its own war?

Musharraf: I do agree, they do not accept this war as their war. This has something to do with history. Please understand the reason, and you should blame the US for it. From 1979 to 1989, we fought a war with the US in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. And we won mainly because of ISI. Otherwise, the Soviet Union could not have been defeated in Afghanistan. But then the US left us all alone with 30,000 mujahedeen brought by them. Even Osama bin Laden was brought by the US, who else? They all came to fight the Soviet Union. So, did anybody in Washington develop a strategy for what to do with these people after 1989? No, nobody helped Pakistan for the next 12 years until 2001. We were left high and dry, with 30,000 mujahedeen holed up, no rehabilitation, no resettlement for them. No assistance was given to Pakistan — instead sanctions were imposed against us. Fourty F-16s, for which we had paid money, were denied to us. Four million Afghan refugees had also come to Pakistan. The mujahedeed coalesced into al-Qaida and our social fabric was being completely destroyed. This is why the people of Pakistan felt used by the Americans, and this is why Pakistanis dislike the US and this war.

SPIEGEL: Even today, you are one of George W. Bush’s last friends. Al-Qaida leaders like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11, and logistics director Abu el-Subaida, were arrested and then tortured on Pakistani soil. In retrospect, do you consider this to have been an error?

Musharraf: I would not like to comment. I would just like to say that I am completely against torture. People in the West have to understand that we were not fighting a war in Germany or the United Kingdom. Under very unusual circumstances we had to deal with people who were vicious. You should not get into details of how we were fighting, how we were handling the war.

SPIEGEL: Terrorism, military coups, territoral conflicts — since its independence 62 years ago, Pakistan has been in a state of perpetual crisis. But you did come close to solving at least one problem in secret negotiations with India: the conflict in Kashmir. What went wrong in the end?

Musharraf: We were close to an agreement with India. My proposal was the demilitarization of the disputed area, self-governance and a mutual overwatch. The key irritant was the line of control which the Indians wanted to make permanent. I said we should make it irrelevant by opening transit routes. And that is where the situation stands.

SPIEGEL: A few weeks ago, you visited New Delhi and said India and Pakistan have done enough damage to each other and that it is time to find a solution. Do you view yourself as as a future ambassador for peace between the two countries?

Musharraf: If the Pakistan government wants me and if the Indians also trust me, then I can be of some use.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Musharraf, we thank for this interview.

Source: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,628960,00.html

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