Pakistan took out terrorist camps with US help: Durrani
WASHINGTON: Mahmud Ali Durrani, the Pakistani ambassador to the US, confirmed on Wednesday what has long been believed: Pakistan “took out” two terrorist hideouts and training camps inside its tribal territories with the help of intelligence provided by the US.
In an interview on C-Span, a public service TV channel, the Pakistani envoy said the US possessed the capability to provide such intelligence because of its satellites and other facilities. He stressed that the two countries were working closely in the war against terrorism, and said Pakistan was in this war for its own sake. “For us, it is a life and death question involving the very future of our country,” he added. He rejected criticism that Pakistan was not doing enough, as has often been alleged in the Western media and even by some Bush administration officials.
Durrani said Pakistan wanted to become the kind of country that its founder Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah wanted it to be: “an open, liberal Islamic state with equal rights for all its citizens, at peace with itself and at peace with the world.”
The Pakistani ambassador declared that there were no training camps run by Al Qaeda in Pakistan, and whenever the presence of any such facility came to the attention of the government, “we take it out”. Replying to a question, he said that Osama Bin Laden was not in Pakistan.
“If I knew where he was I would go collect the award myself,” he added light-heartedly. He urged that the “blame game” being played be discontinued, and said that it was most unfair to accuse Pakistan of not doing enough or not pulling its weight.
He also defended Pakistan’s Waziristan deal with tribal leaders, saying that this was exactly how the system had been worked in the past. Without an understanding with local leaders, things could not move in the desired direction, he stressed.
He predicted that similar deals would have to be concluded on the other side of the border by the Afghan government as well. He agreed that the Waziristan deal may not have worked a hundred percent, but it had worked “50 to 70 percent”.
Durrani said if the US had not gone into Iraq, the Afghanistan problem would have been solved by now. Asked if the US should carry out operations in Pakistan on its own, as has been suggested, he replied that Pakistan alone had the authority to conduct operations inside its territory, and on one else would be allowed to do that. Asked if he had “good access” to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, he said he enjoyed “good access” to her.