Musharraf: Iraq war makes world more dangerous

CNN | September 27 2006

The war in Iraq has not made the world safer from terror, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has told CNN, saying he stands by statements on the subject he makes in his new book, “In the Line of Fire.”

In the book, Musharraf — a key ally who is often portrayed as being in complete agreement with U.S. President George W. Bush on the war on terror and other issues — writes he never supported the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.

“I stand by it, absolutely,” Musharraf told CNN’s “The Situation Room.” Asked whether he disagreed with Bush, he said, “I’ve stated whatever I had to … it [the war] has made the world a more dangerous place.”

He also addressed allegations that Pakistan was a less-than-enthusiastic recruit into the war on terror and that former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told a Pakistani official that the United States would bomb Pakistan “back to the stone age” if it did not cooperate with Washington after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Armitage has denied making the threat. He told CNN he gave Pakistan a tough message, telling the Muslim nation it was either “with us or against us.”

“I have written whatever I heard, and my intelligence director did say that,” Musharraf told CNN. “I would leave it at that. He didn’t contact me. He didn’t say that to me.”

Whether the threat was made, Musharraf said he agreed to cooperate in the war on terror in the interests of Pakistan.

“The first thing that came to my mind was Pakistan, Pakistani interest, Pakistan security,” Musharraf said.

“So as far as Pakistan interest is concerned, we ourselves are victims of terrorism and we ourselves are against al Qaeda or any form of terrorism related to [the] Taliban. … However, we took into account, certainly, that we are a nuclear state. Destabilizing a nuclear state would certainly cause a lot of upheaval in the world.”

Musharraf would not be drawn into a debate over Bush’s comments last week to CNN that he would send U.S. forces into Pakistan if he had credible information that Osama bin Laden was there, instead of letting Pakistan handle the situation itself.

“It’s a very sensitive issue,” he said. “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.”

Musharraf bristled when asked why the United States could operate in neighboring Afghanistan but not Pakistan.

“Please don’t compare Pakistan with Afghanistan,” he said.

“Pakistan is a very, very stable country. We have a strong government. We have a strong military. We have a strong intelligence system, and everything in Afghanistan has broken down. … We don’t want our sovereignty to be violated, whereas in Afghanistan, there was an issue of terrorism in Afghanistan after 9/11 and law and order was broken down.”

Musharraf also was critical of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who he said is “turning a blind eye like an ostrich” to the situational realities in his country and pointing the finger at Pakistan. (Bush downplays tensions)

He denied that a deal worked out with tribal leaders along the Afghan-Pakistan border offered amnesty to al Qaeda and the Taliban, as critics had claimed.

Asked whether he would be interested in appearing alongside Karzai on a future episode of “The Situation Room,” Musharraf said there would need to be “the proper atmosphere and proper attitude.”

“There needs to be harmony in Afghanistan, Pakistan and [the] allied forces, especially the United States,” he said. “… I think, at the moment, there is total misunderstanding of the environment by Afghanistan and Karzai. I know Karzai knows the environment, but he is denying the realities.”

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