Pervez Musharraf, the former President of Pakistan and chief of the army, has appeared all overt western media outlets defending his country from accusations its security and intelligence services harbored al-Qaeda boss Osama bin Laden.
Musharraf, who was in charge of Pakistan during the 9-11 crisis, told CBS News that nobody in his regime knew where Osama was living, or even if he was in the country.
I do agree that [the news about bin Laden living in Pakistan] is surprising and a lot of people in Pakistan are not believing that,” he said. “This is unfortunate. It needs to be investigated. Who slipped up? Why this negligence?
Musharraf said it was a complete surprise that Osama has been in Pakistan all these years. He has long denied that Osama was even in Pakistan.
Musharraf was the ruler of Pakistan from 1999 to 2008.
Yes, there was no proof, obviously, and those who were saying [Osama] was in Pakistan, I don't think they were talking with any evidence, he told CBS.
He also passionately defended Pakistan’s efforts at tracking down al Qaeda terrorists.
We have achieved successes and that should be recognized,” he said. “If we continuously keep blaming the army and the ISI [Pakistani intelligence services] for what they have not been able to do, well, if they haven't been able to do it then it's CIA's failure also.
It is believed that two other high profile terrorists wanted by the U.S. Ayman al Zawahiri, Al Qaeda's presumed new chief, and Mullah Omar, the head of the Taliban, are also currently somewhere in Pakistan.
However, in a separate with CNN, Musharraf denied that he ever said that Osama was not in Pakistan.
The CNN reporter said: “For years US officials, intelligence officials have been saying Osama bin Laden was in fact in Pakistan, you have been denying for years now, categorically saying no, he was in Afghanistan... do you now admit you were wrong?”
In response, Musharraf said: “No, I don't think I was ever denying, I was asked everywhere... and my first response invariably always was that I don't know, I don't know where he is.”
Musharraf told the Fox News network that it would’ve been “utterly stupid” for Pakistan intelligence service (ISI) to be sheltering Osama in the country, especially in a garrison city heavily populated by retired soldiers and military cadets,
I think to imagine that the ISI had done this and planned this, keeping them right there, Musharraf said.
I think the ISI must be utterly stupid to put them in such a prominent place, hiding them in such a prominent place. That is not something the ISI would have done. Certainly not. So let’s not accuse the ISI. I don’t think there is any basis for that.”
As the ruler of Pakistan, Musharraf was also head of ISI during his reign.
He also criticized the US for carrying out the mission to kill Osama without coordinating with Pakistani authorities.
“The violation of sovereignty of Pakistan, this is an extreme sensitivity in Pakistan,” he said. This issue could be agitated by political leaders.”
Musharraf said the Taliban (who have been trained by al Qaeda guerrillas) is not the greatest threat to Pakistan.
“They [al Qaeda] were the people who have taught the Taliban many things,” he said.
“The Taliban were quite less educated obviously, quite uneducated. So this technical aspect of terrorism, like suicide bombing, suicide bomb jackets, like IEDs [improvised explosive devices], like remote controls, exploding devices through remote control, all this technical way of handling explosives and devices was the education imparted by Al Qaeda to the Taliban.”