WASHINGTON DC: Addressing an audience at a US think tank as part of his North America tour, former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf said on Wednesday that Pakistan had two questions to answer in front of the world. Firstly, why Osama bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan, which he claimed was a case of negligence. Musharraf disputed that he did not even believe Bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan for five years, and said that he was 500 per cent sure that he did not know. Secondly, said the former president, Pakistan must explain to the world and the United States why they are not acting against the Haqqani network.
The talk at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which started 40 minutes after the scheduled time as Musharraf was reportedly held up at meetings on the Hill, began with Musharraf recapping the events in the region since 1979. Musharraf said the Soviet Union wanted to get “to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean through Balkanisation of Pakistan.” Musharraf said Pakistan and the United States, after 1979, did jihad in the region and trained mujahideen to fight against the Soviet Union. Faulting the US for abandoning the region in the early 90s, Musharraf said the mujahideen later went on to form al Qaeda.
The former president said that aspersions were being cast on the top leadership of the Pakistan Army and the ISI. He said the ISI, which is “so maligned now”, had lost 350 personnel in terrorist attacks, and had been helped save a lot of lives around the world by being instrumental in disrupting global terror plots.
Vis-a-vis allegations of ISI supporting the Haqqani network, Musharraf said there may be a difference in tactical handling and opinion in the ISI, but that cannot be used to cast aspersions against the Army and the ISI that they were arming the Haqqani network to attack US troops in Afghanistan.
Musharraf also took the speech as an opportunity to lambast the current leadership of Pakistan, saying, “No government elected through elections has done good governance in Pakistan.” He added that Pakistan has a dysfunctional government and is facing economic collapse.
Highlighting the civilian casualties in Pakistan over the years in terrorist attacks, Musharraf said that the United States’ refrain to “do more” was “very annoying for people in Pakistan”. He added that relations between the United States and Pakistan were at its lowest ebb, which was unfortunate. In his speech, Musharraf said that the United States must also make clear as to what kind of Afghanistan they’re leaving behind when the withdrawal takes place from the region in 2014.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2011.