Yes, I was embarrassed: Musharraf on Osama in Pakistan


New Delhi : Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf has frankly admitted he was “embarrassed” that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was staying in Abbottabad city where he was killed by US commandos.

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Musharraf told Headlines Today that the Pakistan Army and the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) could not be blamed for the “slip-up” that saw Osama residing in Abbottabad.

Crack US commandos carried out a daring raid May 2 as they swooped into Abbottabad in stealth choppers, stormed Osama’s hideout and shot dead the Al Qaeda leader.

Musharraf conceded that as the former head of the military and ex-president of Pakistan he was embarrassed that Osama was found inside his country.

“Yes, I was embarrassed,” said Musharraf.

To a query on his earlier statement that Osama was either dead or hiding in Afghanistan, Musharraf said: “I don’t remember having, as you said very confidently, declared that he is dead and he is not in Pakistan. I don’t think I ever did that…He could be anywhere.”

“I used to get agitated when people used to say that he is in Pakistan. Really, I was never confident of his whereabouts. He could be anywhere, it could be Afghanistan or Pakistan or anywhere.”

He quickly added: “As far as dead or alive, yes, I used to say that he was a dialysis patient and, therefore, I don’t know whether he is dead or alive. I never once said that he has died or anything.”

On Osama being found deep inside Pakistan in the garrison city of Abbottabad, Musharraf said: “Let me give three possibilities. Firstly, there was complicity by the intelligence agencies or that they are harbouring him. I reject that for the reason that even President Obama has very clearly said that he is grateful to the Pakistani intelligence for having provided the leads.”

“The other is a possibility of a lower operative having known or (being) involved without the permission or against the policies of intelligence agencies, or the army or the government. That I rule out because if at all he was there, as people say, for a long time, then people keep changing.”

“The third one is not knowing… you call it incompetence or whatever. That is a possibility after all Bombay also took place after 9/11. Media always used to get after the intelligence agencies, the military or the government. What were the intelligence agencies doing? Such slip-ups do happen. It is very regrettable, it is terrible,” general added.

Osama’s hideout was located a short distance from the Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul.

Musharraf said that “one of the best places to hide either is mountains which are inaccessible or the best place to hide is in cities, populated areas. That is the best place to hide, you wouldn’t be known. Thirdly, I may say, if there is a bold person, I think near to the bigger enemy is quite a safe place because there is a degree of complacency around the compound”.

He said it was wrong to call the army as “incompetent” following the “slip-up”.

“Let’s first differentiate intelligence agencies from army. Army is not incompetent. Intelligence agencies and within those agencies the operative who were responsible for the area… they are incompetent…,” Musharraf said.

Warning India against undertaking any misadventure, Musharraf said: “Never attack us, or else we’ll attack you.”

Indian Army chief General V.K. Singh had said the Indian military was capable of carrying out surgical operations against terrorists similar to the one undertaken by the US commandos in Pakistan to kill Osama

The former Pakistan president insisted that a vast majority of country’s population is moderate.

“The international community must not take any action that will further alienate Pakistan. That will only result in Pakistan being further radicalised. The majority of people in Pakistan are moderate, but the problem is that they are a silent majority.”