“Had I been in power, I may have apologised to Pakistan”
Terming “embarrassing” the revelation that al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was living near Islamabad, former Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf has said that “lack of trust” between the U.S. and his country will have “terrible effects” on the fight against terror.
The ex-President, however, said he “is reasonably sure or very sure” that the authorities in Pakistan did not know that the world's most wanted man was living in Abbottabad.
In an interview to Karan Thapar in ‘Devil's Advocate' programme of CNN-IBN, General Musharraf also dismissed as “nonsense” reports that when he was the President, he was tipped off by former head of Afghanistan National Directorate of Security Amarullah Saleh that bin Laden was in Manshera near Abbottabad.
‘It is bad'
Asked about Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief Leon Pannetta's comments that intelligence was not shared with Pakistan on Abbottabad raid because they could tip off bin Laden, Gen. (retd.) Musharraf admitted that “if there is lack of trust, it is bad.”
“In my time, till 2007-2008, I know that all operations conducted in Pakistan, intelligence sharing was there, moving on to the target. But each and everyone invariably was attacked by Pakistan law enforcement agencies. This is the first time that this has happened and I know that there is a lack of trust since the last, maybe, about a year,” he said.
Gen. (retd.) Musharraf said there should be an inquiry by Pakistan into “incompetence and failure” in the Abbottabad episode.
“More than the world, Pakistan needs an explanation to itself that how did this incompetence and failure occur? I think we should answer that ourselves first and nobody has the right to start demanding [explanation] from Pakistan first,” he said.
“... Investigate. Let the people know, let Pakistan know and let the world know because here accusations are certainly there that there was complicity. But I reject that theory, I reject it because of certain facts that American President Obama has thanked our intelligence agencies, who facilitate leading to the target. So why has he thanked them?”
“I strongly believe that is incompetence and not complicity,” Gen. (retd.) Musharraf said.
The former President, who started the cooperation with the U.S. in war on terror after 9/11, said there “is no need for American troops in Pakistan” and “they must leave.”
“They shouldn't have been there in any case...in my time, we had only cooperated on intelligence level. There were no troops in Pakistan and now if there are troops, they must not be there,” he said.
Gen. (retd.) Musharraf said had he been in power, he would have apologised to his country on the intelligence failure over the presence of bin Laden near Islamabad and American violation of its airspace.
At the same time, the former military ruler backed ISI chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who is under fire for the intelligence mess, calling him a “most competent officer” and hoped he would continue as ISI chief.
“I may have apologised on behalf of the intelligence agencies because this is a great slip-up, this is a great embarrassment...and then assured the nation that we will investigate and find out how this slip-up occurred and convincing the world that this does not involve complicity,” Gen. (retd.) Musharraf said.