Bush was convinced Pakistan would not act against militancy

Published: November 10, 2010
Former US president George W. Bush's new book 'Decision Points' is pictured in the White House Brady Briefing Room in Washington.  PHOTO: AFP

Former US president George W. Bush's new book 'Decision Points' is pictured in the White House Brady Briefing Room in Washington. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON: Former US president George W Bush has written in a new memoir that he became convinced Pakistan would not act against militants and all but admitted he ordered drone strikes on its soil.

In his book “Decision Points” published Tuesday, Bush said he had “complex” relations with Pakistan and its former military leader Pervez Musharraf, who pledged to support the United States after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Bush acknowledged that Pakistan “paid a high price for taking on extremists” and said its forces were successful for several years in targeting Al-Qaeda militants crossing the porous border with Afghanistan.

But Bush said: “Over time, it became clear that Musharraf either would not or could not fulfill all of his promises.” “Some in the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, retained close ties to Taliban officials. Others wanted an insurance policy in case America abandoned Afghanistan and India tried to gain influence there,” Bush wrote.

Bush said he grew frustrated by late in his presidency. He recalled a meeting with US Special Forces returning from Afghanistan in which one troop pleaded with him, “We need permission to go kick some ass inside Pakistan.” Bush said he could not reveal details of his decision but noted that the Predator, an unmanned predator drone, “was capable of conducting video surveillance and firing laser-guided bombs.”

“I authorized the intelligence community to turn up the pressure on the extremists. Many of the details of our actions remain classified. But soon after I gave the order, the press started reporting more Predator strikes,” he wrote.

President Barack Obama has intensified the drone attacks, which most US policymakers consider an effective way to kill senior Al-Qaeda leaders without risking US troops, but Pakistan has publicly protested the drone attacks, calling them violations of its sovereignty that kill civilians and risk worsening anti-US sentiment. Some US scholars have questioned the legality of the strikes, saying they amount to extrajudicial killings.

Musharraf raised controversy in 2006 when the United States threatened to bomb Pakistan “back to the Stone Age” if it did not lend support after the September 11 attacks.

In the memoir, Bush said Colin Powell, then secretary of state, called Musharraf on September 13, 2001 and told him he “had to decide whose side he was on” and gave him “non-negotiable demands” including breaking relations with the Taliban and denying Al-Qaeda havens inside Pakistan. Bush said that Pakistan’s cooperation was impeded by its “obsession” with historic rival India. Both Bush and Obama have sought warmer relations with the world’s largest democracy. “In almost every conversation we had, Musharraf accused India of wrongdoing,” Bush wrote.

Musharraf, who is touring the United States as he tries to stage a political comeback, insisted Tuesday that he had evidence that Indian intelligence agents met with Pakistani separatists who came via Afghanistan. “If I’m allowed to be very, very frank, India’s role in Afghanistan is to create an anti-Pakistan Afghanistan,” Musharraf, who stepped down in 2008, said at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

He further stated that India’s consulates in the southern cities of Kandahar and Jalalabad “have no other role” except “creating trouble in Pakistan.” Musharraf  went on to ask “Why wouldn’t the consulates be somewhere in the north facing Uzbekistan and Tajikistan?”

India also has consulates in Mazar-i-Sharif in the north and Herat in the west. The Indian embassy in Kabul was targeted in an attack last year claimed by Taliban militants. India, not a traditional donor, has committed 1.3 billion dollars to Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban regime and is building roads, power lines and a new parliament building.

Musharraf also said that Pakistan “is trying its best” to fight Taliban and Al-Qaeda leaders. “Why is the responsibility of their coming into Pakistan not the fault of Afghan forces and US forces and coalition forces?” Musharraf said. “It should be shared at least 50-50. We are at fault, you are also at fault,” he expressed.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • Zain
    Nov 10, 2010 - 10:38AM

    I am not trying to defend Musharraf, but Bush saying that Powell gave “non-negotiable” terms and asked Pakistan to chose a side, thats pressure in itself, when considering that one of the worlds most powerful armies is on a rampage.

    Granted Pakistan has vested interests with its own agenda in probably hiding or giving haven to the Taliban, but Pakistan’s main issue is with the TTP which are a Pakistani organisation and which time and time again the Haqqani network have denied links to. Now to how much that is true is uncertain.

    Most of the suicide attacks in Pakistan are done by the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and TTP, as compared to Al-Qaeda or Taliban. It is much like US policy to create and install a monster and then go on blaming other, waging wars and imposing sanctions when they go against them. After the Iran revolution America turned to Saddam Hussein to help them out, the CIA supported Manuel Noriega and of course the Mujahideen in Afghanistan.

    Is this all their doing or our doing? Unfortunately, the US economy is in shambles and with the Republicans in majority in Senate and most likely looking to take the next elections, the war will continue and the pull out won’t happen. Unless they leave all of a sudden in 2011.

    Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires, the Turks, Mongols, British Raj and Russia all the most powerful armies during their times tried to invade Afghanistan, and they couldn’t win. There is one major difference between the US Army and the Taliban, the will to live and the will to die respectively.

    I am not supporting either of them, because civillians suffer the most in war. The Pakistan government needs to chose, money or self respect.Recommend

  • hamza khan
    Nov 10, 2010 - 10:19PM

    this narration basically vindicates president musharrafs decision, which most pakistanis supported anyway. the idea that musharraf ‘cowered’ though into accepting this remains a huge lie, and as confirmed by several sources including musharraf himself, the army and several civilian advisors negotiated the risk of denying america its requests, so the decision was not knee jerk or fear inspired by any means. Recommend

  • Anonymous
    Nov 11, 2010 - 1:16AM

    ditto to both Zain’s and Hamza Khan’s commentsRecommend

  • anand singh
    Nov 11, 2010 - 6:52AM

    Afghanistan was possibly the only country who opposed entry of Pak to the UN.

    It has not accepted the Durand line, it never liked being the ‘ Strategic Depth” to Pakistan, it blames Pak for most of the ills that plague it today & in the past… and so many more grouses.

    Does India therefore need to create a ‘ anti Pakistan’ Afghanistan ?Recommend

  • Aristo
    Nov 11, 2010 - 10:39AM

    Not fair, you have censored my comment about Former US president George W Bush being a War Criminal and that he should be tried at the International War Crimes Tribunal. If, indeed, The Express Tribune beleives in freedom of speech, then it must publish my comment. When a court proceeding can be initiated against him in the US, why cannot we in Pakistan who have suffered so much due to his crimes cannot even speak our mind.Recommend

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Nov 12, 2010 - 9:38AM

    How can we act against our most affective assets when they are invited to lecture in the Lahore High Court Bar on the visit of USA President to India. What these gentlemen said must be appreciated by all those countries which want “Eternal Peace”. They are in fact more important than the country itself.Recommend

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