SPIEGEL Interview with Pervez Musharraf Obama 'Is Aiming at the Right Things'

Part 2: 'The US Left Us Alone with 30,000 Mujahedeen that They Brought'


SPIEGEL: If you were still in power, would you order attacks against powerful Taliban leaders?

Musharraf: I would not hesitate one second.

SPIEGEL: Even attacks on Taliban chief Mullah Omar, Osama bin Laden or influential Haqqani?

Musharraf: Certainly. The only thing I was concerned about was apprehending Osama bin Laden and putting him on trial within Pakistan. You need to understand the sensitivities in our country.

SPIEGEL: You yourself have been accused of distinguishing between good and bad Taliban -- those fighting against Western and Afghan forces and those who attack the Pakistani army and police.

Musharraf: That is wrong, I fought all of them without distinction. But please understand that every action has political repercussions. You accuse me of not having taken action, but things are not always black and white -- sometimes they are gray. I will give you an example, the Red Mosque, where religious militants assembled with their students in July 2007. Why didn't I attack them earlier? The Red Mosque is located in an area that, politically, is dominated by Jamaat-i-Islami, a party which can bring masses of people to the streets all over Pakistan ...

SPIEGEL: ... and a party which used to be your political partner ...

A Taliban militant is arrested in the Swat Valley: "RAW is also interfering in the Swat Valley, I know that. Where do all these Taliban fighters in Swat get their arms and money from?"
AFP

A Taliban militant is arrested in the Swat Valley: "RAW is also interfering in the Swat Valley, I know that. Where do all these Taliban fighters in Swat get their arms and money from?"

Musharraf: No, they have never been our political partner. Please understand, there are 14 madrassas in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. There would have been social unrest if we had immediately attacked the Red Mosque. We wanted to avoid a bloody tragedy and solve it peacefully. But we didn't succeed and in the end we had to act. We undertook a military operation that resulted in under 100 deaths. There is currently a parallel case in Karachi. We know there is a madrassa with armed militants inside in a neighborhood called Banoori Town. Shall we go there, collect the weapons and just kill them all? Yes, it can be done. But then we would provoke significant ethnic violence in Karachi. Therefore, it is not appropriate to do this at this time.

SPIEGEL: Is Pakistan now paying for its earlier failures? Why didn't you eliminate the Taliban leadership when they came to Pakistan at the end of 2001 -- above all the so-called Quetta Shura, the Taliban's highest decision-making council, in the Pakistani city Quetta?

Musharraf: The Quetta Shura never existed. Do you really think there is an assembly in a kind of a house where they come and discuss things in something like a regular consultation? Mullah Omar never was in Pakistan and he would be mad if he appeared there. He is much safer in Afghanistan.

SPIEGEL: Over the last eight years, Pakistan has received about $10 billion in military aid from the US. Apparently you didn't spend all that money on the war on terror -- some went to secure your eastern border with India. Is that true?

Musharraf: Half of it, $5 billion, was reimbursed to us for services we had already rendered to the US. You have to understand how the Pakistan army operates: The divisions keep moving. If we buy new tanks for $250 million, then they will be deployed in Peshawar as part of the war on terror, but they will also go to the eastern border. But why do you care about that? Why, for heaven's sake, should I tell you how we spent the money?

SPIEGEL: The American government would surely be interested in knowing.

Musharraf: I also told the Americans that it has nothing to do with them. We are not obligated to give out any details. Maybe I should have said at the time: Ok, you want us to support you, give us $20 billion a year and don't ask what we are doing with it.

SPIEGEL: Why is it so hard for Pakistan to recognize the war against terror as its own war?

Musharraf: I do agree, they do not accept this war as their war. This has something to do with history. Please understand the reason, and you should blame the US for it. From 1979 to 1989, we fought a war with the US in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. And we won mainly because of ISI. Otherwise, the Soviet Union could not have been defeated in Afghanistan. But then the US left us all alone with 30,000 mujahedeen brought by them. Even Osama bin Laden was brought by the US, who else? They all came to fight the Soviet Union. So, did anybody in Washington develop a strategy for what to do with these people after 1989? No, nobody helped Pakistan for the next 12 years until 2001. We were left high and dry, with 30,000 mujahedeen holed up, no rehabilitation, no resettlement for them. No assistance was given to Pakistan -- instead sanctions were imposed against us. Fourty F-16s, for which we had paid money, were denied to us. Four million Afghan refugees had also come to Pakistan. The mujahedeed coalesced into al-Qaida and our social fabric was being completely destroyed. This is why the people of Pakistan felt used by the Americans, and this is why Pakistanis dislike the US and this war.

SPIEGEL: Even today, you are one of George W. Bush's last friends. Al-Qaida leaders like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11, and logistics director Abu Zubaydah, were arrested and then tortured on Pakistani soil. In retrospect, do you consider this to have been an error?

Musharraf: I would not like to comment. I would just like to say that I am completely against torture. People in the West have to understand that we were not fighting a war in Germany or the United Kingdom. Under very unusual circumstances we had to deal with people who were vicious. You should not get into details of how we were fighting, how we were handling the war.

SPIEGEL: Terrorism, military coups, territoral conflicts -- since its independence 62 years ago, Pakistan has been in a state of perpetual crisis. But you did come close to solving at least one problem in secret negotiations with India: the conflict in Kashmir. What went wrong in the end?

Musharraf: We were close to an agreement with India. My proposal was the demilitarization of the disputed area, self-governance and a mutual overwatch. The key irritant was the line of control which the Indians wanted to make permanent. I said we should make it irrelevant by opening transit routes. And that is where the situation stands.

SPIEGEL: A few weeks ago, you visited New Delhi and said India and Pakistan have done enough damage to each other and that it is time to find a solution. Do you view yourself as as a future ambassador for peace between the two countries?

Musharraf: If the Pakistan government wants me and if the Indians also trust me, then I can be of some use.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Musharraf, we thank for this interview.

Interview conducted by Susanne Koelbl and Britta Sandberg.

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