Posted by: Administrator | 13 August, 2006

President Interview at NBC Today Show

25 September 2006, USA

Matt: The Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is here in our Studios for a live interview this morning. This is a man who survived several assassinations attempts and security here has never been tighter. In a moment we’re going to talk to him about the hunt for Osama-bin-Laden, his delicate relationship between Pakistan and the US and the stunning claim in his new book that a high ranking US official threatened to bomb Pakistan into the Stone Age if it didn’t cooperate in the war on terror.

Meredith: Ever since 9/11 Pakistan has been curtail American alley in the war on terror and the hunt for Osama-bin-Laden. We will talk to the Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, in a moment but first NBC’s Chief Foreign Affair’s Correspondent, Andrea Mitchell, has more on the delicate relations between Pakistan and the US. Andrea Mitchell, Good morning to you.

Andrea: Good morning to you Meredith. Saudi officials and most US experts discount/ spread rumours over the weekend that Osama-bin-laden is dead. So, is Pakistan doing everything it can to find him? As recent events proof, once again, the US relationship with Pakistan is very complicated.

The latest clear up, the claim by Pakistan Pervez Musharraf said that a top US diplomat threatened to bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age if he didn’t help the US find the Taliban andAlQaeda after 9/11.

President Bush: I guess I was taken back by the harshness of the words. The alleged threat after two days after 9/11 supposedly came in the meeting between Pakistani official and then Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Armitage can be blunt. He flatly denied making the threat.

Richard: I had never issued a threat that I could deliver on it. There is no was that I could do it. I am absolutely confident, I never uttered it and others who were in the room with me, they say the same thing.

But what’s going on here, experts say it’s all about Pakistani politics which in that country means about to survival. Musharraf who has escaped repeatedly assassination attempt needs to blame the US.

Daniel Benjamin (Centre for Strategic & Int. Studies): This is something that Pakistanis are trying to find useful, the home audience making it clear to the US that they are aggressive in pushing them around. I think the situation is much more about Pakistani domestic politics than anything else.

Pervez Musharraf has doing enough to go after Osama-bin-Laden. While he was in a meeting with George Bush last week, demonstrators against his government were protesting back home. Under pressure Musharraf recently finds signs treaty with tribals who are electing the Talibans and Osama-bin-Laden.

Rogger Cressey (NBC News Terrorism Analyst): Musharraf is stuck between the rock and a hard place. He needs to help US in dealing with AlQaeda, get the same time he has restricted from doing more on the border to deal with the AlQaeda presence inside Pakistan.

Infact Musharraf and his neighbour Afghan President Hamid Karzai have been sparring over whether Osama-bin-Laden is on the Afghan side of the border or as the US intelligence believe in the Tribal areas of Pakistan, areas that Musharraf’s government has now given up on searching. Matt

Matt: Andrea, thank you very much. In Washington this morning, Pervez Musharraf`s autobiography, “In the Line of Fire” is out today. President Musharraf good to have you here on today.

President: Thank you.

Matt: Let’s talk right into this inflammatory passage of your book that claims two days after 9/11 Richard Armitage, then the Deputy Secretary of State, threatened your country and said, ” We would bomb your country back into the stone age, if Pakistan didn’t cooperate in this brand new war on terror against the Taliban and alQaeda.” Richard Armitage as you just said flatly denies it. Is it true?

President: Well, Richard Armitage is a good friend of mine. But whatever happened that day was told to me by my Director General ISI, my intelligence boss who was there. I didn’t have a contact with Mr. Armitage. This was only a statement given to me by the DG-ISI that I clarified this in the book.

Matt: Obviously, it’s generating a lot of tension for the book? But in Andrea Mitchell’s speech, she said this is more about what is happening in Pakistan than what happened in that meeting after 9/11. She said that it’s your way; or some people say, is saving your skin back home. You need to be able to say that the groups in your country, and by the way you’re writing in you book that the majority of people in Pakistan disagree with your cooperation with the US in this war on terror. This is your way of saying I’m cooperating with the US but only because they pointed a gun at my head.

President: No, not at all. That’s not the case. They very clearly explained in the book, that we did whatever we did in the interest of Pakistan. I’m not doing anything specifically for the interest of others. Basically it is in Pakistan’s interest that I took the decision and it’s not the case that somebody is pointing a gun on my head or anything.

Matt: You write in your book that in your mind there is a kind of war game. What would it be like? For example if you didn’t go with the US, what would it be like to be in a war against the US? And yet you made the decision to cooperate with the US. And some people say that, wait a second, if he wasn’t sure, if he had to stop and think about it, then what kind of an alley is Pervez Musharraf today? It’s heart really in this world against terrorist. Is your heart in it?

President: Because it’s in Pakistan’s interest. Obviously it is heart in it; the whole nation’s heart is in it. The issue is not that. Obviously I took a deliberate decision, I thought about it. It was a very serious decision that had to be taken and the main issue that came into my mind was destabilizing a nuclear state and causing such destabilisation in the global war / to the global environment.

Matt: So in your heart, you think it is essential to dismantle, to destroy the Taliban and alQaeda?

President: Yes indeed. And again I may repeat, we must understand Pakistan’s interest says that. And therefore, we will carry on doing it. If only people have doubts, as if I’m doing something basically for others, that’s not the case. It is for Pakistan Primarily that I’m doing primarily and then for others.

Matt: Why do you think that some of your critics, President Musharraf, say that Pakistan they consider to be a hot bag of terrorist activity right now? And they say that you seem to be walking on both sides of the line that you are cooperating with the US and you’re trying not to alienate these many groups of your country. And as a result of that you’re not helping but hurdling the war on terror. How do you answer that question?

President: These are allegations by people who don’t understand the environment. As I said again, we are totally on board and I’m sure that President Bush understands that we are on board or to fight terrorism and extremism. Weare the only country, which understands what is terrorism in its entire complexity. There is terrorism, there is extremism. There is alQaeda terrorism and now Taliban and Talibani.Zation. So we have to understand the entire complexity of this game and we are taking action in accordance with the understanding of the environment. We have strategised and then we are implementing the strategy, putting a tactical part into the operation.

Matt: Let me ask you a question about Osama bin Laden. Ok, first of all there were reports over the weekend that he died a month ago in Pakistan or typo. Do you have any intelligence that would verify that? No, what so ever. So, today how much of a priority is it for you is of capturing or killing Osama-bi-Laden?

President: It’s high priority. We are fighting terrorism, we are fighting alQaeda, we are fighting Taliban. Now if you think that we are doing nothing other than only perusing Osama then that’s not the case. We are fighting Taliban and alQaeda in the mountains of North Waziristan, South Waziristan and there is a third agency Bajaur Agency, which we think, he is around there. So, it’s a whole complex operation going on.

Matt: President Bush and as you know the US intelligence feels that he is somewhere along the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. And US feel that he is on your side of the border. President Bush said recently that he has specific information, specific intelligence as to know the whereabouts of Osama-bin-Laden and if that intelligence says that he was in Pakistan he would send US troops to get him and you said, “No” that this would be done by Pakistani forces. Why not accept the US help to find Osama-bin-Laden?

President: We are out there hunting Osama or Zawahiri together. Now why are you interested in how this needs to be done? We will hunt him down as the situation arises. Now we will decide how to do that when the situation arises. Now why get in the sensitive areas before the target is known where target is.

Matt: I think some people would want to give it to sensitive areas, because they are not sure of your forces operating in that region. You just signed a treaty of peace with pro Taliban in some parts of your country and a lot of people worry that will your forces go and get to job done, if they are asked to job done?

President: This statement is by a person who doesn’t know the environment. What did we really mean by pro-Taliban? You can read the singed agreement with pro-Taliban forces. We have signed an agreement, through a grand Jirga (which means an assembly of elder). Now every Pakhtoon is not a Taliban and the blunder starts exactly like this that we presume that every Pakhtoon to be a Taliban. Now if you do that, you’re going to have a people’s war. And the people join the Taliban and that will be a disaster. So let us not treat everybody there to be a Taliban. We have signed an agreement with Tribal elders and we have the people from the Taliban. This is better way of fighting the Taliban and not reaching an agreement with the Taliban.

Matt: In your book you wrote, “I never favoured the invasion in Iraq because I fear to have put exactly the exhaustive to extremism as it most certainly has. The world is not a safer place because of the war on terror. The worlds have become far more dangerous.” A recent classified National Intelligence, in this country, draws exactly the same conclusion. So, let me ask you do you and President Bush should be blamed for making the world a less safe place?

President: No, I would not like to comment. These are, I believe in Terrorism and I believe in finding ways of improving the situation in the future. So let’s live in the present and the future, and not discuss what decisions that were taken in the past.

Matt: President Pervez Musharraf’s book is called, “In the Line of Fire” memoir. It’s good to have you this morning. Thank you very much.

Thank you so much.

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