Special to the tribune
Ashish Kumar Sen in Washington DC
Former US President George W. Bush writes in his new memoir of his frustration with Pakistan’s reluctance to go after militants and hints that he ordered a campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan.
Bush, whose memoir “Decision Points” hit bookstores on Tuesday, said: "Over time, it became clear that (then Pakistani President Pervez) Musharraf either would not or could not fulfill all of his promises."
"Some in the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, retained close ties to Taliban officials. Others wanted an insurance policy in case America abandoned Afghanistan and India tried to gain influence there," Bush wrote.
He recalled a meeting with U.S. Special Forces troops who had returned from Afghanistan. One soldier told him, "We need permission to go kick some ass inside Pakistan."
Bush wrote that he could not talk about his decision, but said, "I authorised the intelligence community to turn up the pressure on theextremists. Many of the details of our actions remain classified. But soon after I gave the order, the press started reporting more Predator strikes.”
Bush said the US was on the verge of sending Special Forces into Pakistan to destroy the Taliban and Al-Qaida safe havens. However, Musharraf had warned that such an operation would likely destabilise Pakistan and push it into the hands of the militants.
“He (Musharraf) told me that sending troops into combat in Pakistan would be viewed as a violation of Pakistani sovereignty. A revolt would likely ensue. His government would probably fall. The extremists could take over the country, including its nuclear arsenal,” Bush said in an interview with Matt Lauer of the NBC.
The drone programme, a covert operation run from bases in Shamsi and Jacobabad in Pakistan, is a covert operation that neither the US nor the Pakistani government have admitted a role in. In public, Pakistani officials say the strikes violate Pakistani sovereignty.
However, a Pakistani official, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the matter, said there was “robust intelligence sharing” between the U.S. and Pakistan on coordinating drone strikes.
Bush noted that the Predator drone is “capable of conducting video surveillance and firing laser-guided bombs.” He admitted that Pakistan had “paid a high price for taking on extremists.”
He said the then Secretary of State Colin Powell had called Musharraf two days after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States of America and told him he “had to decide whose side he was on” and gave him “non-negotiable demands,” which included severing ties to militant groups and denying them safe haven in Pakistan.
Bush said getting Pakistan over its “obsession” with India proved to be an insurmountable stumbling block winning Islamabad’s cooperation in the war on terror. “In almost every conversation we had, Musharraf accused India of wrongdoing,” Bush wrote.
Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on Tuesday, Musharraf accused India of trying to create an “anti-Pakistan Afghanistan.” He said Indian consulates in Kandahar and Jalalabad are “creating trouble in Pakistan.” They “have no other role,” he added.
George Bush memoirs
Colin Powell had called Musharraf two days after the September 11, 2001, attacks and told him he "had to decide whose side he was on." z
Bush said getting Pakistan over its “obsession” with India proved to be an insurmountable stumbling block winning Islamabad’s cooperation in the war on terror.
z Bush said getting Pakistan over its “obsession” with India proved to be an insurmountable stumbling block winning Islamabad’s cooperation in the war on terror.