Pervez Musharraf on Bin Laden Controversy, U.S.-Pakistan Relations

Article excerpt

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf delivered an address on "The State of the U.S.- Pakistan Relationship" at a July 22 event hosted by the Woodrow Wilson Center, in Washington, DC. In her introduction, former congresswoman (D-CA) and now Wilson Center president Jane Harman outlined some of the challenges that have affected the relationship between the two nations, including Pakistani sales of nuclear technology to North Korea in 2005, the contested 2007 elections, Benazir Bhutto's assassination, and the recent controversy surrounding Osama bin Laden. Retired General Musharraf spoke at length about the trust deficit between the United States and Pakistan. He was saddened to see the deterioration of the relationship, he said, especially after years of cooperation when he was chief executive, from 1999 to 2001, and president, from 2001 to 2008.

"Pakistan finds itself in the eye of the terrorism storm," said Musharraf, as he presented an historical overview of the rise of militant extremism in the region. Placing today's extremist groups in the context of U.S. and Pakistani efforts to fight the Soviets after the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan, he dubbed the years 1989-00 a "period of disaster," as the U.S. "abandoned" the region after the fall of the Soviet Union and retreated without any rehabilitation of the mujahideen, who had been "armed to the teeth" and who coalesced into today's al-Qaeda.

Musharraf reminded the audience that Pakistan has been allied with the West since its creation in 1947. Since 1989, however, he said, there has been a policy shift against Islamabad, with India becoming a strategic ally in South Asia. Pakistan was "used, ditched and betrayed," Musharraf said.

Public antipathy toward the U.S. is a result of the latter's meddling with Pakistan's affairs, the general continued. Many Pakistanis view the U.S. condemnation of Pakistan's nuclear program as an affront to their national pride. Pakistan's nuclear program is the guarantor of its integrity and security, Musharraf said. He called the "indiscriminate" U.S. drone attacks and the collateral damage they cause, along with the American strike against bin Laden inside Pakistan, an assault on Pakistan's sovereignty. Regarding the ongoing controversy over bin Laden's assassination, Musharraf refuted allegations that Pakistani authorities were complicit in protecting or shielding the al-Qaeda leader. …