Q& A: Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan

Q& A: Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan

Terrorism hits home: A Pakistani soldier guards the spot where two suicide bombers rammed President Pervez Musharraf's motorcade on Dec. 25, 2003, the second assassination attempt in 11 days. Musharraf's car was damaged but he was unhurt. Sixteen people were killed.
Terrorism hits home: A Pakistani soldier guards the spot where two suicide bombers rammed President Pervez Musharraf's motorcade on Dec. 25, 2003, the second assassination attempt in 11 days. Musharraf's car was damaged but he was unhurt. Sixteen people were killed. (Associated Press)
Sunday, January 29, 2006

President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, a crucial U.S. ally in the war on terrorism, has a message for President Bush. Interviewed after the recent U.S. airstrike against alleged al Qaeda targets in the north of his country, the former army general discounted the importance of capturing or killing Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman Zawahiri, who are thought by some to be hiding somewhere in Pakistan. A military strategy alone won't defeat the forces of extremism, the Pakistani president told Newsweek-Washington Post's Lally Weymouth last week at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Speaking in English, the 62-year-old Musharraf outlined his view of how to win the war on terrorism. Excerpts:

Last month the U.S. attacked al Qaeda in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Was this attack coordinated with Pakistan?

This was definitely not coordinated with us. We condemn it and have objected to it as an issue of sovereignty. [But] we do know there are foreigners and al Qaeda in that [area]. It is my regret that there are [such] people there.

Arabs and al Qaeda?

Yes, indeed. We are investigating who got killed there. Probably -- and I use that word carefully -- there were five or six Arabs or foreigners killed there.

It was reported in the U.S. that top al Qaeda members were killed.

While this [strike] is a violation of our sovereignty, I also consider the presence of al Qaeda and foreigners a violation of our sovereignty. Let's not play into the hands of extremists [who say] that sovereignty is only violated when someone comes by air.

If the U.S. has intelligence that a terrorist leader is hiding in a certain house -- would there be time for the U.S. and Pakistan to coordinate?

You have to compromise on these things. Our capability is not as much as the U.S., but that doesn't mean that we should allow U.S. forces to operate in Pakistan.

In other words, the U.S. should turn the intelligence over to Pakistan?

There is a lot of coordination going on [in] intelligence.

The argument they use in Washington is that intelligence is short-lived and action is necessary.


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