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Ambassador: Pakistan Has No Interest in Allowing Terrorists to Succeed

July 28, 2010 at 12:00 AM EDT
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Ambassador Husain Haqqani speaks with Judy Woodruff about the deadly plane crash in Pakistan and responds to new allegations that the country's intelligence service might have helped the Taliban. His nation has "no interest to allow terrorists to succeed," he said.
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TRANSCRIPT

JUDY WOODRUFF: I talked with the Pakistani ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, just a short while ago.

Mr. Ambassador, thank you very much for talking with us.

HUSAIN HAQQANI, Pakistani ambassador to the United States: Pleasure being here with you.

JUDY WOODRUFF: First, today’s plane crash in Pakistan, our condolences to everyone involved.

Do you have any information about the cause?

HUSAIN HAQQANI: Judy, I spoke to the prime minister of Pakistan earlier in the day.

There is no idea that we have on the cause. There are certain assumptions, but it’s not good to go with the assumptions. The Pakistani equivalent of the Transportation Safety Board is going to investigate this tragic incident, 154 lives lost. The nation is in mourning.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Is there any evidence at all that there was sabotage or terrorism involved?

HUSAIN HAQQANI: So far, there is nothing that points in that direction.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me turn now to the leaks, the WikiLeaks story this week, U.S. military secrets that document, among other things, information that there’s been ongoing support by the Pakistani intelligence services of the Afghan Taliban.

How does your government respond to this?

HUSAIN HAQQANI: Well, Judy, the first thing is that not all the documents are what they are being made out to be. In many cases, they are just the first draft of first reports.

So, in the field, in the fog of war, many people come. Many people report many things. They don’t always pan out. Somebody comes. A villager says, I have just seen so many people amassing on the other side of the border. The military goes and investigates, finds that’s not what is happening. So, what we are looking at is raw, unprocessed information.

That said, the government of Pakistan maintains that these — whatever statements are being made by some people and some media on the basis of these reports about Pakistan do not reflect current on-ground realities.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And what about the role of retired intelligence officials? One of them, we just heard from, General — General Gul.

What evidence is there, what do you know at all about the involvement of any retired or current Pakistani intelligence officials involved in supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan?

HUSAIN HAQQANI: Firstly, anybody who retires from our military or our intelligence services is like any other retired person in any other country. They stop working for the government officially, unless, of course, they get a contract position somewhere.

Now, the general you have mentioned has not been in government — in any government position for 20 years. He has not been serving the government. He hasn’t been working in our intelligence services.

Now, do people sometimes or is it possible that some people use their connections built while they were in government in the private sector and pursue what they consider to be an ideological war? It’s perfectly possible. And several people have in the past been detained, some people have been put on trial for doing that.

The important thing is the government of Pakistan wouldn’t want and will not allow anyone who served the government before, but now wants to break our own laws, to be able to do that.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, it’s illegal in your country, but some of it’s going on is what you’re saying.

HUSAIN HAQQANI: I’m sure that there are many illegal things that are going on here in the United States, too.

But the government of Pakistan, as it establishes its writ all over the country, will make sure that people, whether serving or retired or people who are not in government, none of them break our laws. Look, the war against terrorism is our war. We have lost a lot of people in this war.

Our leader Benazir Bhutto was killed by the terrorists. Several hundred Pakistanis get killed — on average, Pakistan loses 10 soldiers a day fighting the terrorists since the beginning of 2008. So, there’s no interest on the part of Pakistan to allow the terrorists to succeed. And anyone who aids and abets the terrorists is our enemy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And what about, Mr. Ambassador, the allegations that are frequently voiced here in Washington, that there’s much of what goes on in your military, in your intelligence services that is not under the control of your civilian government?

HUSAIN HAQQANI: I think that a lot of people are prisoners of history. Now, I’m somebody who’s taught as a professor of political science and international relations. And I have taught history, too. So, I look forward to going back to that some day.

I think what we’re trying to do in Pakistan right now is to develop a new orientation. Our military, our intelligence services, and our civil leaders are all working together. I think that a lot of speculation relates to the distant past.

And we must not forget that this past includes — it started somewhere in 1979, when the U.S. went in to support the mujahedeen against the Soviets.

So, there’s a long history to it. Let’s not get into the history of it. What we are trying to change is the future. We certainly do not want the Taliban, who do not our women to be educated, who do not want our young to join the modern era as normal people, like the rest of the world, we do not want them to succeed, and we are fighting them.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But it’s not ancient history, the very strained relations Pakistan has with India, ongoing tensions between your two countries. And every analyst one talks to now who has not taken sides says they believe clearly that Pakistan is using, in many ways — quietly — is using the Afghan Taliban as a way to counter the influence of India in Afghanistan.

HUSAIN HAQQANI: Judy, we have been concerned. And we are very honest about it. We are concerned about Indian military or intelligence presence in Afghanistan, if it threatens our national security.

We do not want that to happen. What would the United States have thought if the Soviet Union had bases in Mexico during the Cold War? The important thing here is that we’re working it out. We’re working it out with our Afghan brothers. President Karzai and President Zardari have met several times. Our military leaders have met.

Afghanistan is working with us to reassure us. And we’re working our differences out with India as well. There are outstanding disputes. There are disputes on which we think we still have a stance the Indians have not — have paid attention to, but we will work it out.

Our vision — our vision for our region is not one of perpetual conflict. And we certainly do not want a prolonged conflict in our part of the world.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Bottom line, how do these leaked documents, these WikiLeaks documents, affect the trust between the United States and the government of Pakistan?

HUSAIN HAQQANI: Bottom line is that those in the government of the United States who deal with us on a daily basis know that we are doing things to build trust.

Our intelligence service and the U.S. intelligence service is working closely together now, much more than ever before. The mistrust that was — which we inherited from the era when General Musharraf, a dictator, was in power in Pakistan, a lot of it has eroded.

It’s a work in progress, but I think Pakistan and the U.S. are closer today than they were from the period from which these documents come from.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani, thank you very much for being with us.

HUSAIN HAQQANI: Pleasure being here, Judy.