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interview: president pervez musharraf
... What was your first response to [the Sept. 11 attacks]? How did you first react?

I realized the gravity of the whole issue of this terrorist attack, and I immediately came on the television. I remember I just expressed my shock and grief, expressed my sympathies, expressed my condolences with the United States, with President Bush and with all the grieved families. That was the first address that I gave on this issue.

So the very next day, Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage met with your ambassador in America and with General Mahmood, [the head of Pakistani intelligence] who happened to be visiting. They spoke about the situation. What was reported back to you by Gen. Mahmood from that meeting?

He did tell me the gravity of the situation and the shock and anger that is being expressed by all in the U.S. government, and also the shock of the nation, actually. Basically they gave me the mood in the United States -- a mood of shock and anger.

Then, I think, Wendy Chamberlin [the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan] came to see you. I understand that at that point she made no specific requests for specific assistance from Pakistan. But can you tell us what her line was? Did she indicate to you that America would be looking for assistance from Pakistan?

Well, she did definitely ask for our cooperation against terrorism in general. I think the first day, the day she visited, there was no talk of the coalition as yet. So it was a general talk of our being on the side to fight terrorism, condemning terrorism and our cooperation on the show of terrorism.

Musharraf is the president of Pakistan. In this interview he discusses his concerns about the domestic fallout of his decision to join the international coalition and open Pakistan's airspace and bases to coalition forces. He also describes his efforts to convince the Taliban to give up Osama bin Laden and avoid a military confrontation in Afghanistan, which he feared would descend into chaos. This interview was conducted on May 14, 2002.

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 surprised you?

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 gave a letter to Mullah Omar also, my own letter ä telling him from my personal side to please accept reality

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 terrorism.

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 things?

... 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, very serious.

So I did indicate that we'll be very touchy, and we'll be watching this very carefully.

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 Americans?

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 Pakistan?]

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; people understood.

[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 around?

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 saying?

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 operational plans?

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 Washington?

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 exactly.

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 time.

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 dispensation.

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 strategy. ...

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 considerations?

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?

Yes.

And I understand that Colin Powell at one point said, yes, he got the debt from them, it was now branded across his --

-- Forehead.

-- his forehead.

(Laughs).

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 requirements.

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 government?

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 Rumsfeld.

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 Northern Alliance?

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 -- must 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 balance?

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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