LONDON: Former President Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday denied signing a secret deal which allowed the United States to carry out a unilateral raid inside Pakistan.
British newspaper the Guardian had earlier reported that Musharraf had signed an agreement with former US President George W Bush after Osama bin Laden had eluded capture in Afghanistan.
Rejecting the Guardian report, Musharraf said that the agreement should be presented in parliament if it exists.
The former president also left a message on his Facebook page, denying that such an agreement had been signed:
The accusation of my having allowed intrusion into Pakistan by US forces chasing Osama Bin Laden is absolutely baseless. Never has this subject even been discussed between myself and President Bush leave aside allowing such freedom of action that would violate our sovereignty.
Updated from print version (below)
Secret deal sanctioned US raid: Report
Pakistan struck a clandestine deal in 2001 that allowed the United States to carry out a unilateral raid on its territory similar to last week’s raid that killed the al Qaeda leader, the Guardian newspaper reported on Monday.
The agreement was finalised between then military ruler Pervez Musharraf and US President George W Bush after Osama bin Laden eluded capture in Afghanistan’s Tora Bora mountains, the newspaper said, citing serving and retired Pakistani and US officials.
Under the terms of the agreement, Pakistan would allow US troops to conduct a raid inside Pakistan in search of Bin Laden, his second in command Ayman al Zawahiri, and the group’s third-ranking official. Both sides also agreed that Islamabad would vociferously protest the incursion afterwards in keeping with public sensitivities.
The newspaper quoted a former senior US official as saying that “there was an agreement between Bush and Musharraf that if we knew where Osama was, we were going to come and get him.” “The Pakistanis would put up a hue and cry, but they wouldn’t stop us,” the official told the Guardian.
The existence of such a deal would put a new spin on the political storm triggered by Bin Laden’s death in Abbottabad.
A senior Pakistani official said it had been struck under Musharraf and renewed by the army during the “transition to democracy” – a six-month period from February 2008 when Musharraf was still president but a civilian government had been elected.
The former US official said the Pakistani protests of the past week were the “public face” of the deal. “We knew they would deny this stuff.”
Despite several attempts to contact his London office, the Guardian was unable to obtain comment from Musharraf.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2011.