WASHINGTON: Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf warned in an interview on Wednesday that the United States will be “a loser” if it alienates Pakistan in the war against Al-Qaeda and Islamic militants.
Musharraf, speaking about the US raid in Pakistan which eliminated Osama bin Laden, also told ABC News there was no deal between his government and Washington almost a decade ago allowing US forces to conduct a unilateral raid in Pakistani territory, as reported by the British newspaper The Guardian.
“Never! And this is the assertion being cast by the Guardian and I rejected that. I condemn such an insinuation,” Musharraf said. “There was no such deal.”
Musharraf acknowledged however that Pakistani intelligence might have helped bin Laden remain undetected for years at his compound in the garrison town of Abbottabad, but said this it would have been a “rogue element” in the ranks.
It was more likely that this was a big “blunder” by Pakistan in failing to detect the Al-Qaeda leader for years, he said.
Pakistan has come under fire for failing to track down the world's most wanted man, who was shot dead in a US commandos raid on May 2 in a heavily fortified compound not far from Islamabad.
But Musharraf, who was president until 2008 after seizing power in a coup in 1999, said the action was a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and a sign of mistrust between the two partners.
“Certainly it was a violation of our sovereignty,” he said, adding he supported Islamabad's decision not to allow US officials back into the compound.
“That was a good decision. I don't think we can accept, no government can accept a violation of their sovereignty.”Musharraf said Pakistan had cooperated with the US in many other cases and said the unilateral US action showed a lack of trust.
“What kind of friend is that, that you haven't taken us into confidence?” he said.
“In my time, we apprehended three dozen, dozens of Al-Qaeda people... we cooperated with each other, we spotted the target, we identified it.
“You can't clap with one hand. If you don't trust Pakistan, how can Pakistan trust you?”Pakistan suffered “all the consequences of mayhem and tribal warfare in Afghanistan,” after joining Washington in the battle against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and that trust and cooperation are needed, he said.
“The requirement is absolutely Pakistan and US relations must be good... But if there is mistrust and we are pulling in different directions, trust me, we are losing the battle against terror.
“To (the) extent that you want to alienate Pakistan, you will be a loser. And Pakistan will also be a loser, there's no doubt. The world will lose.”
Musharraf, a former Pakistani military commando and army chief, resigned as president under pressure in 2008. He now lives in self-imposed exile in London, but is wanted over the 2007 murder of ex-premier Benazir Bhutto, accused of failing to provide her with enough security.