Pakistan's President Answers Critics of His Terror Response

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has been a close ally in fighting al Qaeda since the terror attacks of 9/11. But in recent months, there have been growing questions about his and his army's role, especially in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. ABC News' chief White House Correspondent Martha Raddatz is in Pakistan, where she conducted an exclusive interview with Musharraf. What follows is an excerpt from their conversation.

Osama bin Laden

Martha Raddatz: There are people who don't feel you've gone after him [bin Laden] aggressively enough -- that if you wanted to find him, the Pakistanis could find him.

Pervez Musharraf: Well, I, I -- that is not true at all. Now what do you mean going after him really? Should we be using this whole force out in the mountains checking all over the place looking for him? That is not what is done. We are operating against al Qaeda and basically, 80,000 troops really are being used to operate against al Qaeda and Taliban who are in South and North Warizistan mainly and we are concentrating that.

We are not using the army only to track down Osama. I mean, this kind of a misperception should be removed. We are using the army against al Qaeda and Taliban. Now in the process, if you get word on him, very good. But we are not certainly focusing entirely only on tracking Osama bin Laden and Zawahri. This is not the case.

Raddatz: So he is not a priority?

Musharraf: He is a priority as well as -- when you're operating against al Qaeda, well, he's the leader of al Qaeda. So we are operating against him. But what I am trying to explain is that if somebody thinks that we aren't doing anything but trying to track him, no, we are not doing that.

Wherever we find them, wherever we get information or intelligence of location al Qaeda or Taliban, we attack them. Now, in the process, if he's attacked, very good.

Bin Laden in Pakistan?

Raddatz: He [bin Laden] never comes back over into Pakistan, you don't think?

Musharraf: Now, if anyone says he comes here, he's just guessing. I call that in intelligence terms information.

Raddatz: And you're not guessing. You know he's in Afghanistan.

Musharraf: Absolutely. Because he's not located. We are listening. We are seeing. We have far more greater intelligence than [Afghan president Hamid] Karzai has. I'm sure you would understand that. What intelligence does he have?

Raddatz: You're listening and seeing intelligence, and you believe from that intelligence that you're listening to -- that Osama bin Laden's in Afghanistan, not Pakistan?

Musharraf: No. No. I will never say something which I don't know. I don't believe in saying something which is information -- if somebody tells me something. I believe in only giving intelligence when I'm sure what has happened. Now talking about Osama bin Laden or Mullah Omar is all information.

Where Osama bin Laden is concerned, we had intelligence in the past. As far as Mullah Omar is concerned, there is absolutely never has been any intelligence of his being here other than now, just five days back when President Karzai gives me a list of numbers, ridiculous kind of numbers that they are here and they are talking and we find that two-thirds is a waste of time. They are all dead numbers. They are not even there.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...