I think that also on that day, the State Department then met again with
Ambassador Lohdi [the Pakistani ambassador to the U.S.] and with Gen.
Mahmood. I think that that was when they began to be concrete about the things
they were looking for. Can you recall what those details were, how that
information was fed back to you? Was there anything in what was requested that
No, it didn't. Exactly the same, again it was almost the same message as given
by the U.S. ambassador, Wendy Chamberlin, basically asking for our cooperation
on the fight against terrorism.
I think it was in three stages that we went on. The first stage was, of course,
my coming on television and expressing my own grief and sorrow and condolences;
the second was when I said that we are together on the fight against terrorism,
we'll cooperate around the fight against terrorism; and the third was then on
the issue of coalition, joining, being a part of the coalition.
I think when I came back the next day, which was Sept. 12, I had the meeting of
the National Security Council in the evening on Sept. 12. Then on Sept. 13, we
had other conferences the whole day. On Sept. 14, I think we met in the corps
commanders' conference. I had called the corps commanders. I discussed
everything with the corps commanders. And on Sept. 15, I met the Cabinet. Yes,
that was the sequence. After the meeting with the National Security Council,
which was on Sept. 12, I now said that we are together on the issue of fighting
I gather also that when you were speaking to your officers and your
officials on the National Security Council, that you were presenting, not just
as a risk, but as an opportunity. Could you tell me about how you expressed
that to your colleagues?
Well, frankly, we did not talk much about a deal. I mean, frankly I didn't talk
of returns really, because it was quite inappropriate at that time of the mood
of shock and anger -- and here I am dealing with what kind of return I am going
to get? Obviously, I didn't do that at all. I didn't talk of any returns. ...
So my line with my Cabinet, with the corps commanders, was generally a matter
of principle, and then seeing all the issues; what would be involved in being a
part of the fight against terrorism and a part of the coalition, obviously,
because we knew our geography. It didn't need much imagination to see that we
needed to assist in a big way if there was any operation in Afghanistan. So
those were the things that we discussed. ...
[In a Sept. 15 meeting with Wendy Chamberlin] you had an opportunity to
express to her that obviously this was a big development for Pakistan and that
therefore there were some concerns that there were things that you needed the
Americans to understand. I gather that Wendy said, "Are the concerns you're
raising conditions?" And I think you were saying to her, no, you weren't making
conditions, but you wanted them to be aware that there were these
... On Sept. 15, yes, I did express to her our major concern -- the domestic
concern. I kept telling everyone, and I told Wendy also that this is our
cooperation against terrorism; you must understand the domestic fallout. These
decisions are not very easy; [they are] very difficult and we need
understanding from the United States and also support from them, so that I can
take the nation along with me in our fight against terrorism.
Did you find her receptive to that expression of your concerns?
Yes, very receptive. I've always found her very receptive, I think.
You also spoke to her about the street demonstrations, how you'd had a look,
and you'd seen what kind of people were involved in the street demonstrations.
Can you tell me how you reacted to that?
Yes, yes, everyone was disturbed. The whole world was, because it was being
flashed all around the world, all these street demonstrations. But I had a
different opinion frankly. I was quite confident that the Pakistanis, the
masses, have not reacted as everyone was thinking they have, because I told her
if you see all these demonstrations anywhere in Pakistan, firstly, the people
are not participating.
It is these religious extremists and also Afghans themselves -- the people who
are here, there are about 3 million of them -- and also some students
brought from some [madrassas] being controlled by these religious fanatics. The
masses were not there. ...
Unfortunately the media was showing as if the world has come apart here in
Pakistan. I was pretty sure that it's not the people of Pakistan. I gained in
confidence gradually when I kept seeing these, and I kept getting reports on
who are participating, the strength of those, a realistic assessment, and I
realized, no, the people are with me.
Can you tell me what you said to President Bush on the subject [of
logistical support for a U.S. attack on Afghanistan]?
I said the sensitivity of Pakistan is to India particularly, and our
sensitivity was protecting our strategic assets, frankly. I thought the only
danger to them could come from India, basically, and also maybe Israel, or a
collusion of the two. So I did clearly mention that anything happening from the
east coming into our airspace will be taken as enemy, and that will be very,
So I did indicate that we'll be very touchy, and we'll be watching this very
A couple of days later, I think there was the mission to Kandahar, when
Gen. Mahmood was sent with a delegation to make contact with Mullah Omar
[the leader of the Taliban] to try and get some sort of improvement from them.
What was the mission that you gave to Gen. Mahmood for that trip?
I sent three missions. One was Gen. Mahmood's mission. In fact, I think he
went twice, if I'm not wrong, and the minister of interior and I also sent a
delegation of religious scholars.
The main point that I was conveying was, "Surrender Osama bin Laden for the
sake of peace in Afghanistan." I was all the time conveying a message that they
must understand realities and prevent suffering of the people of Afghanistan by
surrendering Osama bin Laden. I was trying to drill home into him, "Why should
he make people of Afghanistan surrender for a person who's not an Afghan, who's
come from outside? People suffer? Why is he making the people of Afghanistan
suffer for the sake of one person who's an alien? He's from outside." This is
the message that I was conveying continuously.
I think the message that came back from the Taliban was that they wanted
sanctions lifted, they wanted financial aid, and they wanted Osama bin Laden,
if possible, to go to another country. How clear was the message, and how
realistic? Did you feel that you were getting a realistic response? Or did you
feel that you were getting an insight into a lack of realism?
I think it was total obstinacy on their part; the message was absolute
obstinacy. They were not bending at all, not yielding.
On one occasion, Gen. Mahmood did manage a breakthrough. He said, "We sat
separately, there was nobody, and there in the separate conversation, Mullah
Omar did show a little bit of flexibility." But then, unfortunately, he was not
accepting this issue of surrendering Osama bin Laden. The maximum that one
could go to is to form a court, an Islamic religious scholars' court, to try
him. More than that he was not agreeable to.
I think around about that time you had a conversation with British Prime
Minister Tony Blair -- that was probably your first conversation with him. We
think it was on Sept. 18. Can you tell me how that conversation went? Was Tony
Blair saying anything different to you that had not already been said by the
No, I think it was the same. I think he expressed his gratitude actually for
us, for Pakistan and my government and myself having joined the coalition. By
that time, I think the coalition had been formed, and we had accepted being a
part of the coalition.
Then I also again brought home the difficulty of this decision, its domestic
fallout, and he was in fact grateful. And then I think he also indicated the
likelihood of an operation in Afghanistan, against Afghanistan. I think that is
also what happened, yes.
Did he at that time indicate whether there would be any assistance for
Pakistan -- either diplomatic or in material terms -- as a result of Pakistan's
cooperation and collaboration with the coalition?
I don't remember really, but certainly economic. I was avoiding it, because I
think it was quite unbecoming at that time to be talking of economics; I made
it a point not to be talking on these issues. But yes, an indication of
cooperation and assistance to Pakistan, understanding our internal problems,
that was there.
[Can you discuss the seven points of cooperation the U.S. requested from
The seven points that we were talking of -- this came as a package. The three
main aspects of it was this airspace, use of our airspace, logistic support and
intelligence cooperation, information exchange. These were the three main parts
of those seven points. The rest were minor. These were the three which stood
out, and this needed to be analyzed, which we did analyze in detail, and we
accepted these. Then we went into the details of the tactics of it: which
bases, which airspace, which part of airspace and what logistics support. That
was then gone into later and, yes, there was discussion on which bases. ...
I think it was at that time that you made your television address to the
nation, and this was presumably when you were trying, as the president, to get
the nation behind you and to understand. What did you feel was the Pakistani
perception of the U.S. that you were needing to get them behind? What were you
trying to achieve in that broadcast?
I was trying to justify whatever we are doing to be a matter of, an issue of
standing by principles and to be the most logical course to follow.
From a national interest point of view, I was trying to justify that there is
nothing un-Islamic in character in what we are doing. We are not doing any
violation of the religion, because that was the sensitivity, that was what was
being conveyed by the religious extremists -- that maybe we are doing something
which is un-Islamic.
So I particularly touched on the Islamic part of various issues. I touched on
the critical issues of jihad and tried to tell them that it's a very, very
myopic, and a very, very restricted interpretation of jihad that is being
projected by these religious extremists. Jihad is something very much bigger. I
quoted from our verses from our own Quran and I also quoted the example of the
prophet, who said, "What is jihad?" I really personally think that's what
everyone also said, that that TV address was really quite a turning point;
[In late September you sent a religious delegation to visit the Taliban.]
How did the idea of the religious delegation arise? Did you think that this was
maybe a kind of a last chance to communicate with them and get them to turn
Absolutely, that was the last straw, actually. I was quite disappointed in fact
through these three delegations, two of Gen. Mahmood and one of the interior
minister. I think I gave a letter to Mullah Omar also, my own letter I sent. I
drafted a letter, telling him from my personal side to please accept reality.
And then it ended up in disappointment. ...
I believe also at this time that you were trying to persuade President Bush
to hold off from the immediate action so that you had that bit of latitude to
try and create some kind of a change. I think some of the diplomatic channels
referred to it as a daily tug of war. What was your line to President Bush?
What were you saying to him, and how did he react to what you were
Frankly, I was extremely concerned of the fallout of this operation, again, on
Pakistan. The first fallout was joining the coalition, which we tried to pacify
through this address of mine on the television, and people understood.
Now physical operation -- although one knew it is coming, but I knew it'll have
a tremendous domestic fallout -- so how to avoid that was the question. If it
could be avoided, I thought it'll be very good. That is what my concern was;
that was what I was trying to do and that is what I was telling President Bush.
I was trying to find out what is required. If the requirement is Osama bin
Laden, we must try to get him out. If you can get him out and it solves all the
problem well, why the operation then? That was my line, really, but since we
failed on Osama bin Laden, all doors got closed.
Did you find President Bush was receptive to that argument? Or was he
worried that if he didn't begin quickly they might lose an initiative?
Well, I quite understandably found him to be angry, very angry. It's quite
understandable with the shock of this terrorist attack. I saw in him an urge to
punish now, and a strong urge to punish and make whoever did it to pay for
whatever they have done. But other than that, I think he was quite
understanding on this issue of if he could get Osama bin Laden out. ...
And then on Oct. 5, you had a meeting with Tony Blair. I understand that one
of the elements in that discussion was Tony Blair's evidence document --
attempting to put together evidence that pinned the attack to Osama bin Laden.
You also had concerns about your domestic concerns and Kashmir. Can you just
give me a feel for how that meeting went?
Yes, now I remember. Yes, this was another thing that I was even talking to
President Bush and Colin Powell -- what is the proof. Yes, this was an
important part of our discussion every time: Give proof, give evidence of their
involvement, Osama bin Laden's involvement, because Mullah Omar was asking for
evidence. Every time he would ask for evidence, so that was one of the main
issues in every discussion. Yes, this was very important part.
Yes, I completely remember now. I think Tony Blair also spoke abut the
evidence, which was obviously there was no documentary evidence that he could
provide. But he did talk of certain issues, which led to proof of Osama bin
Laden having engineered, or at least abetted, or at least being the main person
who really encouraged this attack. ...
Oct. 6, which was the day after you had the meeting with Tony Blair, was
when you had a meeting then with Wendy Chamberlin. I think that that was
specifically to discuss the timing of operations. Can you recall how that
meeting went, what the mood was and what she was telling you about the American
Frankly, I don't remember the details. But by this time, the inevitable was
quite obvious. I think we had tried everything; all that had failed. We had
accepted to be a part of the coalition. ...
I think that it was at that meeting also that you mentioned that Gen.
Mahmood was due to retire. Was she surprised by that, given that Gen.
Mahmood had been involved in some of these delegations and in the meetings in
By that time I had decided. I don't remember exactly, but I think, yes, I did
tell her. I did surprise her, but she left it to us whatever we had decided. I
clarified actually that it has nothing to do whatsoever with whatever is
happening in Afghanistan -- nothing at all. It's a routine matter where I had
to make somebody a vice chief, make somebody the chairman of joint chiefs of
staff committee, because there was too much of a load on me. I was doing
everything, so I had to shed off load. In that process, there were certain
considerations where he had to retire. Either he fits into one of these slots,
or he retires, and frankly he didn't want to fit into any one of these slots,
the slot that I was offering, and therefore he had to retire. ...
I would like to add that this had no linkage whatsoever with whatever was
happening in Afghanistan. A lot of people think that maybe he was following his
own agenda. Maybe he went to Afghanistan and following his own agenda. Maybe
when he was in the United States, he was doing things which I did not like
maybe, but nothing of this. This is farthest from the truth.
Whatever he did, whatever he was doing in the United States, or Afghanistan,
they were all under my personal guidance, and he was informing me completely
about each aspect. So to his credit, let me say that there was nothing he was
doing which was not directed by me, or he was not giving me the feedback.
Oct. 7 was the start of the airstrikes on Afghan targets. What kind of
warning did you get? Did you get several days? Or was it only just confirmed a
day or two before the strikes?
On Afghanistan, the operation? I think it was a few days before that we knew
that the operation is going to start. Not seven or eight days. I think it was a
few days, a couple of days, two or three days maybe. I don't remember
I think at that point, you made a statement indicating that you'd received
assurances that the strikes and the military operations would be quite brief.
Can you recall who had given those assurances? Had you spoken to Colin Powell
about the possible duration, or the president or Donald Rumsfeld? I know I'm
testing your memory here, because there was so much going on at the
Yes, yes, I was all the time insisting that the operation should be short, as
short as possible. But a lot of people asked, "What is 'short?'" and I couldn't
answer. I obviously said, as a military man, I do understand that it has to
create the effects that it is required to create. We only hope that those
effects get created as soon as possible. You can't lay down any time limits, it
has to be effect-related. So I knew this "short" cannot be interpreted in terms
of days and months or weeks.
On the other side, yes, there was agreement that it should be short. I think
from all points of view, from the political fallout, the domestic fallout of
the whole operation, I always was of the view that the operation should be
short, it should be very accurately targeted, and it must avoid collateral
damage. They were the three elements that I always spoke about to everyone.
Then [Secretary Powell] came with a team in mid-October to meet you for talks. I think it
was at this point now in mid-October that people were beginning to look ahead
to what should happen in a post-Taliban regime in Afghanistan. ... Can you just
indicate what you were interested in seeing after the Taliban had gone -- what
kind of issues were important for you?
Yes, I think first of all, the basic parameters that we had thought of, I did
indicate to General Colin Powell, that first of all we must ensure the unity
and peace of Afghanistan after the operation, and bring peace and stability to
Afghanistan. The unity basically must be ensured.
The second I spoke about is, whatever political dispensation comes about in
Afghanistan must be broad-based, multiethnic, and take into consideration the
ethnic composition of Afghanistan. And the third was that whatever regime comes
in must be in harmony with all its neighbors. Of course, we in Pakistan were
concerned about Pakistan, and be in harmony with Pakistan. These were the three
main issues that I thought must be catered for in a post-Taliban
But other than that, I think we had crystallized our views on what the
requirements are of immediately operation. We thought that there are three
strategies that need to be followed together. I think one was military
strategy, which was in operation; the others [were] political strategy, and
rehabilitation and reconstruction strategy.
These three strategies need to be followed and thought out. ... I was always
concerned that when the military operation is over, we should not withdraw into
chaos. We should not be sent into chaos with no political strategy in place. So
gradually, the military strategy must give way to a very effective political
Did you feel that these were not only ideas that they were receptive to? How
much sense did you get that they might be thinking along the same lines -- that
they might have addressed some of these issues in their own internal
Let me say that in all my introductions, with certainly Colin Powell, they were
all exceptionally -- I think there was a total understanding of views; total
harmony in views, on both sides, total acceptance of each other's concerns. So
I found that he was extremely receptive to whatever we were telling him.
I understand that, during dinner, your head of ISI [the Pakistani
intelligence service] was informed that there was a firing across the line of
control [in Kashmir], that this was whispered to you. Do you recall that detail
of the dinner, that there you were talking about one thing, and suddenly the
line of control was rearing its head again?
Yes. Yes, I remember there was, but it was not such a major incident as such. I
did say I was voicing my concern, that while we are busy with the west, the
east has to be held off because of our sensitivity. In the east, of course,
Kashmir is the flash point. I did tell him whenever something is happening in
Pakistan or where Pakistan attention is towards some other side, or something
good is happening here, it's always something bad that comes across from the
east. That has always been our concern. So, again, this did concern me, yes.
Then I think the following day there was obviously heavy talks, detailed
talks between the two teams. I think you had a 40-minute tete-a-tete with Colin
Powell and raised [the issues of] Afghan government, the refugee problem, the
Pakistan economy, debt relief, and so on?
And I understand that Colin Powell at one point said, yes, he got the debt
from them, it was now branded across his --
-- his forehead.
Can you tell me about that meeting?
Yes, absolutely. I was very, very, frank with him, and I did tell him,
again, the general to a general, I said, "I'm going to be extremely straight,
and frank and blunt." And that was the time when I really raised our
I raised three requirements. One was concerning debt relief. The other was
fiscal support, and the third was market access. These were the three. I said,
"If you really want to assist us, this is the area that we seek assistance."
And since we raised so many times this issue of debt relief, he did remark that
this is written on his forehead now, and he will never forget it. Many times he
said that his wife always says, "What is there written on your forehead?" And
he says that I used to tell her, "I always tell her that President Musharraf
has written 'debt relief' on my forehead." (Laughs) I think, yes, we drove this
point home to him, and it was very nice of him that he always was very
accommodating and understanding.
I think then at the press conference, that created an opportunity where
Pakistan and the Americans could show that they were at one, really, in the
idea of a multiethnic post-Taliban government. How did you present your views
with Colin Powell, that you'd been able to discuss about the post-Taliban
Yes, I think there was total harmony in our views, and he spoke. I think
whatever he said was whatever we really wanted, and there was total
understanding. He showed concern to our requirements, and he did say that he
will assist in all ways. He thanked us for being a part of the coalition, and
he certainly gave assurances that he will look into all our needs and
requirements showing concern for our domestic environment also.
[German] Chancellor Schroeder came, and I think there was a concern at that
time about operations continuing during Ramadan. Can you tell me what your
concern was, and how he reacted to it?
I think, again, a very positive response. I did express concern that maybe the
operation in Ramadan would not create a good impact, not only in Pakistan, in
the entire Islamic world. At that time, we thought it should culminate before
Ramadan, or then, it should be halted. Actually we thought it could culminate
before Ramadan. But of course one did understand that, again, unless those
objectives are achieved, it cannot really culminate.
Then, on Nov. 4, Don Rumsfeld came to see you. How did that go? Were there
any new concerns that Donald Rumsfeld was bringing?
No. There were no new concerns, but at this time now, I think even with
Chancellor Schroeder, may I say, that was the time when the military operation
had proceeded quite far ahead. ...
Now I thought that, instead of waiting for the military operation to culminate,
one could launch a political strategy simultaneously, gradually shift focus
more on the political side and reduce the military side. That was the idea that
I was propounding. I was showing concern really that the political strategy has
not been crystallized, and we could end up in a vacuum; if suddenly the
military operation comes to an end, there will be a political vacuum. This was
my concern, which I expressed to Chancellor Schroeder and also to Donald
At that stage, were you beginning to have a concern that, in that vacuum, it
would leave the field open for an unbalanced control by the Northern Alliance
to the exclusion of other forces? What were your concerns were about the
No, no, the concerns were that Afghanistan would have descended into chaos,
as it did at the end of the Cold War, when the Soviets left. There would be
ethnic infighting, warlordism, and strife in the whole of Afghanistan. The
Northern Alliance really would have splintered in that. My view was that
Northern Alliance really had a number of components who had been fighting
against each other. So my concern was that all of them will start fighting
again between themselves. That was the chaos, really. It was not only sure of
Northern Alliance taking over Afghanistan, because Northern Alliance was
composed of groups which really were not very homogenous. ...
Could you recap on what you were saying about the Afghan settlement when you
were dining with [President Bush at the U.N. in New York in November]?
Yes, I did say that there are four basic ingredients of the solution to the
Afghan problem. Number one was that we must ensure the unity of Afghanistan and
bring peace and stability into Afghanistan. The second was we should ensure a
broad-based multiethnic dispensation, taking into consideration the ethnic
composition of Afghanistan. Thirdly, that whatever political dispensation comes
about, it should be in harmony with all its neighbors -- certainly, as far as
we are concerned, with Pakistan. And lastly, that no political solution can be
imposed on the people of Afghanistan. This is the lesson of history that we've
got; therefore, any solution must be homegrown, acceptable to the people of
Afghanistan. These were the four basic ingredients that I talked of.
What was your immediate reaction when you know the Northern Alliance had
this kind of rapid advance because of the Taliban were just withdrawing and
collapsing? Can you recall conversations you had at that time, in response to
this sudden catastrophic collapse, if you like, of the Taliban?
Yes, it was a surprise. The catastrophic collapse was a surprise, although on a
number of occasions, I was of the view that they will collapse and the reason,
because in one of the interviews in New York, somebody asked, "How long do you
think this operation at the Taliban will last?" So I had clearly said, "Not
very long." ...
As far as communication and structure of the Afghan Taliban was concerned,
there was no communication and trust structure. There was no radio link. There
was no television wireless linkages. There was no telephone linkages, only
possibility was through mobile and satellite linkages, which was also not
possible probably there in so much detail. So therefore I thought that, from a
purely military point of view, there is no particular homogeneity and lateral
homogeneity where the commands are not in communication with each other.
Such a force, which is not blended together through communication, will fall
any time. Any part of it falling will result in the collapse. But I didn't know
that they'll collapse that fast, frankly, so it did come as a shock.
But now it brought home the criticality of the political strategy. We saw that
everything is crumbling, and the political strategy is not in place again, and
that was our biggest concern -- my biggest concern that, again, Afghanistan
will go into chaos. ...
What were your expectations of the forthcoming Bonn Conference, which was
due to start a few days later?
Certainly the concern as I said was the political strategy must be brought in
place, and the four parameters were very important. Again, I drove home these
four parameters that I said. Multiethnicity and a homegrown solution -- these
were the two very important aspects. It has to be multiethnic. It must not be
imposed. So the first part, the important part was broad-based multiethnic,
which needed to be emphasized. I was quite satisfied in fact that this Bonn
conference is taking place, and we were very hopeful having spoken also to Mr.
Brahimi and what was going on. I was very hopeful of the outcome.
There was an argument about whether the conference in Bonn should be a kind
of a starter, which would then be resumed in a subsequent meeting in Kabul. Do
you remember any conversations you may have had to discuss whether that was
desirable, or whether you thought that the Bonn Conference should be something
that really came up with a solution?
No, I thought it must come out with a solution, and I was particularly keen
that the solution should take place outside and not brought about inside
Afghanistan anywhere, especially not anywhere other than Kabul, because that
would indicate a leaning towards one ethnic group, which could have been
harmful. But I was always wanting that the Bonn Conference should succeed --
When did Hamid Karzai's name surface in your considerations as somebody who
you thought Pakistan could do business with and who would help the ethnic
I don't remember the exact dates, but I must give credit to my ISI --
Inter-Service Intelligence -- who brought out this name. And then we took stock
of the whole thing as far we were concerned. I don't know whether on the other
side that the United Nations team, the United States, were also thinking of
him. I really don't know. But as far as we are concerned, it came up, and I
immediately after we decided that from our point of view he was the right man.
I was told about his positive qualities.
I did start telling everyone - especially, may I also add, the Saudis, Saudi
Foreign Minister, Crown Prince Abdullah, who were also brought home on this
political strategy that I was talking of. Their views were totally in harmony
also, and Mr. Hamid Karzai's name. I mentioned everywhere that maybe he's the
right choice to have for this initial internal government. ...
But he wasn't somebody who was really known to you before his name started
coming forward in this process?
No, not at all. I'd never met him. I didn't know at all, but his qualities were
told to me by the ISI, and then, the fact that he was, frankly, a Pashtun and
it was important to balance out the ethnic balance that we're talking of. [His]
being from the majority ethnic group, it was very important.
Did you think [Bonn] was a satisfactory outcome? Did you have any residual
fears once the conference was over and Kandahar also fallen, and now an interim
arrangement had been agreed? Did you have any residual concerns?
Well, we were very satisfied, first of all, extremely satisfied that an
internal government is in place. However, there was a concern of which ethnic
composition, which was being expressed by the people themselves -- by Afghans
themselves, more than our own concern. But we thought as an internal government
it was very good. It was workable and we accepted it. ...
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