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Musharraf takes on Bush over Iraq war
Aziz Haniffa in Washington,DC | September 27, 2006 10:30 IST
Last Updated: September 27, 2006 10:49 IST
In his book, The Line of Fire, Musharraf has written that 'I never favored the invasion of Iraq because I feared it would exacerbate extremism as it has most certainly done. The world is not a safer place because of the war in Iraq. The world has become far more dangerous.'
"I stand by it. Absolutely," he said in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, who asked if he would like to either revise or amend this contention, which was in direct contrast to Bush's assertion only hours earlier during a joint press conference with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai that the military invasion in Iraq was imperative to combat terror.
Asked whether this meant that he totally disagreed with the President of the United States, Musharraf replied, "I've stated whatever I had to. It has made the world a more dangerous place."
He also reiterated that that there was no necessity for the US to violate the sovereignty of Pakistan to capture or kill Osama bin Laden or his deputy Ayman el-Zawahiri or any of the other al Qaeda leadership, even if Washington had actionable intelligence that these al Qaeda leaders were in Pakistan.
Bush had told CNN earlier in an interview that if such 'actionable evidence' were available, the US would have no qualms about going into Pakistan. "Absolutely. Absolutely. We would take the action necessary to bring him into justice,"he had said.
Musharraf said, "I have been giving my comments that this is a very sensitive area and our decision is that we operate on our side of the border and US forces and allies operate on the other side. Now, having said that, we are hunting Osama and Zawahiri together. We are on the hunt, we are on the lookout for him. When we locate him, we have to take action -- we have to take effective action to do away with him."
Asked what was wrong if the US tried to kill or capture bin Laden or his deputy in Pakistan, Musharraf reiterated, "It's a very sensitive issue. We should not be discussing how and who is to deliver the blow. But whenever we locate him,we have to deal with him and let's leave it at that and let's not get into the sensitivities of who and how it will be done. We will use anything that is required to deal with the situation."
Musharraf bristled when asked why it was OK for the US to hunt for al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan but not in Pakistan.
He angrily asserted, "Please don't compare Pakistan with Afghanistan. Pakistan is a very, very stable country. We have a strong government, we have a strong military, we have a strong intelligence system. Everything in Afghanistan had broken down. So how can you compare the two?"
"We don't want our sovereignty to be violated, whereas in Afghanistan there was an issue of terrorism within Afghanistan. After 9/11 law and order was totally broken down," he said.
"It was warlordism going on -- the situation in Afghanistan was various warlords were controlling different parts of Afghanistan. (So) How can you compare that with Pakistan?"
He also dismissed suggestions by some analysts and observers that Taliban leader Mullah Omar and his coterie were in Quetta, Pakistan. "This is most ridiculous. In Quetta in Pakistan, it's the provincial headquarter. There is a corps headquarters, there are two divisions, there is a provincial government functioning and there is an intelligence set-up of CIA and ISI," he said.
"I must say that both of them are inefficient if they don't even know that Mullah Omar's there," he said sarcastically.
Asked whether he favored another Islamic country, Iran, developing a nuclear weapon, since Pakistan was the first Islamic nation to acquire such a capability, Musharraf argued that "we developed it because of our security perspective, because of our threat perception."
"We don't believe that there should be any more nuclear proliferation and we don't think that Iran has suffered from a threat perception that we suffered from," he said.