Musharraf: OBL's presence "a big blunder" for Pakistan

ABC’s “Real Deal with Chris Cuomo” promises more than it delivers in this interview with former Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf. They flashed this as a scoop that “some” in the military and ISI may have helped Osama bin Laden hide in plain sight in Abbottabad, which even the current government conceded last week. Musharraf does some fancy sidestepping in the interview, saying that the idea that bin Laden lived in the compound for almost six years doesn’t appeal to “his sense of logic.” That’s hardly a shock, since that would mean it started under his regime.

On the other hand, Musharraf rejects the “aspersions” cast against the military and ISI. The oft-cited “rogue elements” could possibly have been responsible, but Musharraf also says it could have been a “slip-up.” Which is worse? Musharraf insists that support for OBL couldn’t have existed at a “strategic” level because of the damage done to Pakistan by al-Qaeda, but it’s also true that Pakistan supported the Taliban even during its partnership with AQ. It’s not unthinkable that the same mentality that favored Islamist terrorists at the highest levels before 9/11 would still exist today among the same circles.

Cuomo just gets silly when it comes to demanding to know why the US would need to prepare for the contingency of engaging with Pakistani forces during the raid. If we didn’t tell them about the raid, why would we expect them not to react to a military incursion deep into the interior of their country, just two hours away from their capital? American worries on that count were well-founded, and not a reflection of overt hostility towards the US by Pakistan; it’s the result of invading someone else’s country, no matter how well justified it might be.

Skip past the first three minutes of the first clip here, which is redundant and self-promoting:

Musharraf also warns that the US cannot afford to alienate Pakistan:

In the interview Musharraf called Osama bin Laden’s six-year residence in the military town of Abbottabad, Pakistan, a “big blunder” on the part of Pakistani intelligence. But he also warned the United States that if it continues to alienate Pakistan as they did in the bin Laden raid, the U.S. will be the “loser.”

“You want to alienate Pakistan, you will be a loser,” he said in the interview with Cuomo. …

In order for the U.S.-Pakistan relationship to heal, and for the war on terror to succeed, Musharraf said the two nations would have to build a renewed level of trust.

“The requirement is absolutely Pakistan and U.S. relations must be good, in the mutual benefit of Pakistan and also the mutual benefit of the United States to fight terrorism and extremism. So it’s a win-win for both. But if there is mistrust and we are pulling in different directions, trust me, we are losing the battle against terror,” he said.

“This was a very serious fault, but let me also say that taking it to an extent that you want to alienate Pakistan, you will be a loser. And Pakistan will also be a loser, there’s no doubt. The world will lose.”

I don’t disagree, but that’s not really the issue here. We have put our support on the line for almost ten years, and bin Laden was within walking distance of their military academy for more than half of that time. Pakistan needs to decide whether it wants to seriously fight Islamist terrorism, not the US. It needs to clean house in the ISI if Pakistan expects us to take them seriously.