OTR Interviews

Former Pakistani President Musharraf Concedes Incompetence in Bin Laden Search, But Denies Hiding 9/11 Mastermind

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 4, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: What did Pakistan know? And were they double-dealing us? Those are the questions we all have. And earlier today, former Pakistani President Musharraf went "On the Record."


VAN SUSTEREN: I assume you know many people in the United States are very displeased with your country that many Americans are suspicious that your country hid Usama bin Laden or that they -- or that your country was incompetent in finding Usama bin Laden. What do you say, sir?

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, FORMER PRESIDENT OF PAKISTAN: I can accept the second accusation, but hiding him I cannot accept, and I'm very, very sure it was not being done or ordered by me. And knowing the army, that could not have been the case. Yes, incompetence, I will have to accept, yes. Yes, indeed.

VAN SUSTEREN: How does that happen that your government is incompetent? He was picked up in a garrison city, in a city surrounded by military, and he lived rather in -- it was unusual. He lived in a house that was much bigger than everybody else's, a lot of security. How does this happen right under the nose of your military and your intelligence service?

MUSHARRAF: Well, it is very surprising, indeed. I totally agree. But high security is not an uncommon thing in that part of the country. High walls, bashed wires are a common feature in the frontier province especially. And one doesn't really -- it doesn't at all that much suspicion as it would in other countries, maybe in the United States.

VAN SUSTEREN: But it's a bit curious because Khalid Sheik Mohamed, the architect of 9/11, he was picked up under the nose of your intelligence service and military. How does that happen?

MUSHARRAF: Let me tell you that know guerrilla warfare and having studied this, let me say maybe populated areas are the best safe havens actually, maybe better than being in mountains unless the mountain is inaccessible as the tribal areas of Pakistan. Otherwise living in habited areas with a population, a big population, may be the safest place.

VAN SUSTEREN: The reason why I ask you this, sir, the question about the incompetence or whether it was hidden deliberately is because your country, many people in your country are now unhappy with my country because this military operation was done without any knowledge of your country. The people are critical. Is that something you agree with? Are you critical of the United States for not informing your country before we did this operation to get bin Laden?

MUSHARRAF: Well, when you say that many of our people are unhappy with your country, yes, indeed, I think so. You are right. That many people in Pakistan are unhappy with the United States.

But let me tell you when you say that is why they may have hidden a person who has declared war on Pakistan, a person who was involved or his organization was involved in many of the terrorist attacks in Pakistan which have killed hundreds, if not thousands of people.

Now if the army and ISI hid him in Pakistan, they are doing this -- if they are fighting Taliban and Al Qaeda, they are doing it for Pakistan. We don't want those organizations and we don't want our sovereignty actually violated by those people. So people may be disliking the United States, but that doesn't mean that their own enemy will be harbored by the army and ISI which has suffered at their hands.

VAN SUSTEREN: I might be more in agreement with you, sir, if it weren't for the fact that your country, the ISI, is protecting the Haqqani network, which is a division of the tell ban, in the northern part of your country. So when you protect them and you are trying to avoid us getting them and they are killing American forces, it's hard to believe that you are a full partner with us.

MUSHARRAF: Well, I think Haqqani is the son of a person who has been a great revolutionary and fought the Soviets. Now I don't at all know, when you say we are supporting or protecting them, I don't think that is also correct. That may not be.

But merely not operating and going against the Haqqani people does not mean that Pakistan army or ISI is supporting him, supporting them through attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan. There may be a very good reason for the army not to be operating in north Waziristan. One of the reasons I can believe is they don't want to open too many fronts.

The army is overstretched at the moment. They are operating in areas of Pakistan and we had to go into Swat, the army had to go in again, and they have pacified Swat and the other agency. And then they had to go into so many other tasks also that they were involved in floods also, and they are also looking after the eastern border, so they are overstretched.

So why do we not believe the tactical deployment of the army to themselves. And they are in in favor of Taliban and Al Qaeda? What kind of a deduction is this? This is not a correct deduction.

VAN SUSTEREN: That is not my deduction. I'm taking that from Admiral Mullen who met with General Kayani will three weeks ago and he met and said your intelligence service is protecting Haqqani. I know it is you are stretched too thin. But my country, our admiral says the drone can go in there and deal with the Taliban with Haqqani but your country is resisting and there's a drone feud between our two countries because there's a lack of cooperation, a lack of complete partnership because Haqqani, it's our thinking, is protected by your ISI because you are using it as a proxy against India.

MUSHARRAF: Let's not get involved with India. I don't think Haqqani is being used as a proxy against India. In India there are other groups. And they are involved in India. And there is great sentiment in Pakistan to join in these groups and go across the border into Kashmir and fight the Indian army but I don't see them involved in that.

The other point is acting against the Haqqani group, I don't know if the army support -- I can't imagine they are supporting the Haqqani group to fight you across the border. I don't think that is true. I don't know what the army told the Admiral Mullen, but I don't think we are supporting it. I am sure that they wouldn't be supporting it. But they may not be acting against him. That doesn't mean that they are supporting him.




VAN SUSTEREN: Here's more with former president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf.


VAN SUSTEREN: What's reported in our news is Admiral Mullen said at the core of the difficulties between our countries, and that also relates to our upset with your country about finding bin Laden there, is this whole Haqqani network and the fact they are killing Americans, and we kind resistance to us trying to go in and to get rid of this network that is killing our forces and making it difficult for the fight in Afghanistan.

MUSHARRAF: You talk about drones and making it difficult -- you see fighting in Afghanistan is the coalition's job and an national army job. We have to have success there.

And now from this side, yes, we need to fight on this side. But these people going across the border and crossing and reinforcing the Taliban on the one side, or they come from Afghanistan and they go back to Afghanistan.

I would like to say that this crossing, intercrossing on the boarder is equally the responsibility of Pakistan and coalition forces, U.S. forces and others to check. Why is the responsibility entirely of Pakistan to check this group? So it is equally the responsibility of coalition forces across the border.

Now on our side, this drone issue, you said we are not allowing it. This is the sensitivity of the people of Pakistan. If you are that keen about using drones, why don't you give the drones to Pakistan, by the way? Give the drones to the Pakistani army.

VAN SUSTEREN: I will give you a good example why not. I will give you an example why we don't give the drones to Pakistan. When you started the interview you admitted that it was incompetent that bin Laden was found in your country. So why would we surrender your drones to the military when we don't have a lot of confidence right now?

MUSHARRAF: Well, drones, when you are talking of Haqqani group, you are always seeing one negative. But what about other people who are in Pakistan who were apprehended in Pakistan? Why don't you congratulate us for that? Why don't you say well done, and well done by ISI or well done by law enforcement agencies.

VAN SUSTEREN: We are delighted that he has been captured, Khalid Sheik Mohamed, we are delight bed that. But when you talk about a partnership, it's like a marriage. A cheating spouse says why are you complaining about me, I come home every night, I come home to my spouse. We need full partners. The Haqqani network is making it difficult to win in Afghanistan. We need full partners.

MUSHARRAF: We are full partners. We have linkages with Taliban also. We dealt with Baitullah Mehsud in the south who was also Taliban. So we have pacified them. They were also going across. And why are we, yes, indeed, Haqqani is the last man, one man that is creating a lot of agitation in the minds of people in the United States. I do understand.

I don't know the strategic planning or the planning of the army of moving into north Waziristan and acting against this Haqqani. I'm not privy to it. I don't know. But what I know is the army, maybe they are staying their time to handle the situation.

But your conclusion that Pakistan is supporting is wrong. Pakistan cannot be supporting the Haqqani group. It may not be acting against them. Yes, you can accuse them of that and they must give some good reason why they are not acting against it.