Pakistan's Role in the War on Terror

This partial transcript of the Fox News Channel broadcast War on Terror: The Hunt for the Killers, November 13, 2001, was provided by the Federal Document Clearing House. Click here to order the complete transcript.


BUSH: I believe he deserves our nation's support, and we will continue a dialogue with the Pakistan leader with the full intent of finding ways we can cooperate in order to bring stability to that part of the world.


SCOTT: President Bush pledging his support to Pakistan president Musharraf earlier today at a joint news conference with Vladimir Putin. Musharraf is the man caught in the middle: siding with America's coalition against terror but condemned in his own country by Muslims who support Usama bin Laden and hate the West.

Fox News senior correspondent Rita Cosby obtained a groundbreaking interview with the embattled president. Let's take a look.


COSBY: Mr. President, thank you so very much for joining us.


COSBY: How do you think the war is going?

MUSHARRAF: I think it's going all right. It was certainly the operation — initially, they had taken some time to get nearer to objectives, but now, with what has happened, maybe the objectives have got closer.

COSBY: During your meeting with President Bush, you said that you would like to accelerate the pace of the war. Yet, you are urging not to go into Kabul, the capital. How can you justify these two?

MUSHARRAF: Well, the issue of going into Kabul is not related to the speed of the operation. Kabul, we have all agreed that any entry into Kabul would lead to a lot atrocities, killing of each other by the various ethnic groups which needs to be avoided. This is experience of the past.

So therefore, any speeding up of the operation really is not — we think that having Kabul as a demilitarized city would be useful from Afghans' point of view. We want to avoid unnecessary casualties of innocent people living in Kabul.

COSBY: How can you say we've won the war if we don't take the capital?

MUSHARRAF: Well, no, this is not a war in that sense. It's not a war of occupying spaces and areas and cities and towns. It's an operation against personalities, against individuals. So if these individuals and personalities are removed, the question is not of occupation of spaces really. It's not a war of that kind.

COSBY: You've said that the U.S. campaign could end in one day. Under what criteria?

MUSHARRAF: Generally, one things that war is really a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) spaces, forces, objectives, ground objectives, cities that we are talking of. Here the situation is different. The objectives are some few people, personalities. They can be knocked out by one bomb. So one presumes that the objective is actually the delay is in the intelligence availability, intelligence and information availability. If that is available, it won't take any time to achieve the strategic objectives.

COSBY: You have said that the bombing should stop during Ramadan. Why?

MUSHARRAF: Well, I said the sensitivities of Muslims in the month of Ramadan should be taken into account. It is more because of the negative fallout it will have in the Islamic world. I'm not saying that the wars or action is prohibited in Islam during the month of Ramadan, but I'm seeing it from (UNINTELLIGIBLE) point of view, from perceptions point of view that in the Muslim world, it will have a negative fallout. That is why I said the sensitivities should be taken into consideration. However, they have (UNINTELLIGIBLE) against military gains and losses.

COSBY: If this drags on for some time, months, more than a year, do you think then we will still see a cohesive coalition?

MUSHARRAF: The duration is related to something, related to a substance, and the substance is you must achieve strategical objectives. I mean, what's the point of having an operation and leaving it halfway without achieving strategical objective? But however, having said that, one would like to certainly use all possible means and evolve all possible plans that the operation is shortened and it is not prolonged. Everyone would desire that. Any sensible person would desire a shortening, you know, having an operation which is as short as possible. Within that, as I said, a political strategy needs to emerge from the people of Afghanistan themselves. This political strategy may be, my suggestion is at a certain speed, if military objectives are not achieved, and if you can achieve the same military objectives through application of a political strategy, maybe you shift from the military to the political.

COSBY: Usama bin Laden recently said in an interview with a Pakistani journalist that he has nuclear weapons and chemical weapons. What do you think?

MUSHARRAF: I can't imagine him having nuclear weapons, because nuclear weapon is difficult to possess. It's not such a thing which can be possessed like a football, and you can carry it around and then blow it up anytime you like. The core has to be there. The trigger mechanism has to be there. A delivery system has to be there. It's not such a minor package that you can carry around. So I don't think this could be true at all. On the chemical weapon, it's a possibility because it's easy to fabricate, doesn't cost much. It needs knowledge by some scientist to put it together.

COSBY: Do you think we are any closer to getting Usama bin Laden?

MUSHARRAF: Well, one can't be very sure, but I presume so.

COSBY: What kind of time frame do you think we're looking at?

MUSHARRAF: One can't be definite, but one can see that it shouldn't be certainly years that some people talk of that the operation is going to continue for such a long duration. I would presume it should be weeks or maximum, some months.

COSBY: Should bin Laden be captured or killed?

MUSHARRAF: No comments on this. I think I wouldn't like to comment on this.

COSBY: Is there something you think is better? Many in America say it's a no-win either way. If he is killed, he may become a martyr. If he is captured, there are fears there will be some riots or many protests. Is there one alternative realistically that is better than the next?

MUSHARRAF: Well, again, if he's captured and there's a trial, it depends on what kind of trial that taking place. It can lead to repercussions.

COSBY: Did President Bush ask you to go after bin Laden?


COSBY: If he did, what would you say?

MUSHARRAF: We are going to provide all the assistance, but if you are talking of going after him or sending forces across the border into Afghanistan, not that's not the arrangement that we have decided on.

COSBY: In the '90s, there was a plan under then President Clinton to use the Pakistani intelligence to get Usama bin Laden when Nawaz Sharif was in power. Then you came to power, the plan fell apart. Why?

MUSHARRAF: Yes, there was. And I didn't know at all that there was any such plan. But it was such an immaturish plan. It would have failed. It never would have met any success. And it was to my military mind, I think it made no sense at all.

COSBY: Will we see the end of terrorism with the end of bin Laden, or is it just the beginning?

MUSHARRAF: No. I keep equating this with a tree. I feel that you get terrorists, you eliminate terrorists, you are really blocking the leaves of a tree. And if you go for the organization, you are chopping off a branch of a tree. But the real issue is to get to the root of the tree. So therefore, just merely eliminating terrorists means plucking some leaves of the tree. The tree will carry on growing. It's a long battle I would say if you are talking of elimination of terrorism from the world.

COSBY: Are you concerned about being possibly assassinated because of the strong vocal minority in your country that is absolutely outraged that you and your leadership are supporting the United States?

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PRESIDENT OF PAKISTAN: My staff is more concerned because of extremism, some extremism. And extremists, really, even one man is a dangerous man. So my concern is not there because these are very few. But from one point of view, as I said, even a few or one individual can cause a lot of damage.

COSBY: Are you confident that your nuclear arsenal is safe?

MUSHARRAF: Very confident. Very, very confident. We have evolved, and custodial control, which are basically very strong and very efficient. Our nuclear assets are in very safe hands.

COSBY: You use the word "campaign." President Bush uses the word "war." Are you afraid of the impression of using the word "war" domestically, inflaming things?

MUSHARRAF: I would be very careful in using this word, "war," because it's creating wrong perceptions because this whole world, it's a matter of perception. Perceptions are more important than reality. So what happens is the perception around the entire Muslim world, and in the world, may I say, is now appearing as if there's a mass kind of a war going on against the innocent people. Women are dying and children are dying and — which is not the case. Yes, there has been collateral damage. There have been civilian casualties, although exaggerated to quite an extent, but the projection that it is getting is negative.

COSBY: Many believe that the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence agency, has some ties to the Taliban. A politician, a leading politician in Quetta, recently said, quote, "I'm of the opinion that not a needle in Afghanistan is secret from the ISI."

MUSHARRAF: I am very proud of this organization because the whole of India thinks whatever happens there, they say that it is the ISI behind it. And now we talk of anything in Afghanistan, let me say that that's not the truth. We are the only country which was maintaining diplomatic contact with Afghanistan and the Taliban. That doesn't mean that we knew everything and that they were listening to us and we were controlling everything.

COSBY: Many people say that much of the hold-up in the U.S. military plan has been to form this new government, to plan who is going to come in next. What do you project? Who do you see in charge of the next government?

MUSHARRAF: Yes. This is the million-dollar question, I would say. We have decided on the parameters of the new arrangement, and the parameters are very clear. We have to ensure the unity and stability of Afghanistan. We have to ensure a broad-based government, a multi-ethnic government, taking the demographic composition of Afghanistan in view.

It has to be a government which is friendly with its neighbors, and also, the most important issue, that it should be facilitated and not imposed on the Afghan. It should be home-grown. But the leader, one individual who has acceptability across the board in all the ethnic groups, is difficult to find. They need to find a leader themselves. At the moment, the figurehead of king Zahir Shah may be an accepted single — there is no other alternative, in fact, visible at the moment.

COSBY: Would you accept some Taliban representatives in there? And is there such a thing as a moderate Taliban representative?

MUSHARRAF: Any Taliban who is not going along with the views or with the attitudes of the present Taliban government, who is a against how they are governing and who is against maybe the support to Usama bin Laden and his network, ought to be accepted in a future political dispensation because you can't really draw a line between who is a Taliban and who is a Pashtun and who is a moderate, so we need to see anybody who accepts, who is willing to put his weight behind a change should be accepted. He's not with the present Taliban government.

COSBY: Mr. President, thank you so much for the interview.

MUSHARRAF: Thank you very much. It was a pleasure.


SCOTT: Rita Cosby.

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