Tuesday, September 26, 2006

All eyes on Musharraf's book

All eyes on Musharraf's book - NDTV.com - News on All eyes on Musharraf's book: "Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's book, In the Line of Fire, hit bookshelves in Pakistan on Monday ahead of its release in the United States. NDTV had special access to the advance manuscript of the memoirs. Musharraf reveals how a former top US diplomat threatened to bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age if Islamabad did not support Washington's war on terror after 9/11.

On Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Musharraf said, "the initial signs of sincerity and flexibility that I sensed in Manmohan Singh seem to be withering away. "I think the Indian 'establishment'- the bureaucrats, the diplomats and intelligence agencies and perhaps even the military has had the better of him". Musharraf also talks about the failed Agra Summit of 2001, which he says humiliated both him and then Prime Minister Vajpayee. After two drafts of the Joint Declaration failed to materialize, which he blames on India backing out.

" I met PM Vajpayee at about 11 o clock that night in an extremely somber mood. I told him very bluntly that there seemed to be someone above the two of us who had the power to overrule us. I also said both of us had been humiliated. He just sat there, speechless. I left abruptly, after thanking him in a brisk manner"

US attack threat

On the US threat, Musharraf writes that he was forced to look at his options, but found that he had none if he took on the United States.

* Our military would be destroyed.
* We had no oil and we did not have the capacity to sustain our economy in the face of a US attack.
* Worst of all, we lack the homogeneity to galvanise the entire nation into an actively confrontationist stance.

Musharraf felt there was more to gain by falling in line with the US. "We would be able to eliminate extremism from our society and flush out foreign terrorists in our midst. We had been victims of Taliban and al-Qaida and their associated groups for years."

Adverse reaction

But in reality the General was licking his wounded ego. He writes: "Needless to say I felt very frustrated by Armitage's remarks. It goes against the grain of a soldier not to be able to tell anyone giving him an ultimatum to go forth and multiply, or words to that effect." President Musharraf writes about being hedged in at home while aligning with the US in 2001. "The mullahs would certainly oppose joining the US. There would be an adverse reaction too in the NWFP. Sindh, Karachi and Balochistan would be lukewarm. The Punjabis would understand me."

9/11 attacks

Terming September 11, 2001 as the day that changed the world, Musharraf writes: "America was sure to react violently, like a wounded bear. If the perpetrator turned out to be al-Qaida, then that wounded bear would come charging straight towards us. Powell was quite candid: You are either with us or against us." Musharraf also writes about how US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage warned Pakistan. "In what was to be the most undiplomatic statement ever made, Armitage added, if we chose the terrorists then we should be prepared to be bombed back to the Stone Age."

Al-Qaida suspects

In another startling revelation, President Musharraf in his book has apparently also said that CIA has secretly paid the Pakistan government millions of dollars for handing over hundreds of al-Qaida suspects to America. The US government has strict rules banning such reward payments to foreign powers involved in the war on terror. General Musharraf does not say how much the CIA gave in return for the 369 al-Qaida members that he ordered should be passed to the US.

India-Khan links

Musharraf made yet another claim that could make many in the Indian establishment very angry. He has claimed that India's uranium enrichment programme has connections with Pakistan's rogue nuclear scientist Dr A Q Khan. India's Department of Atomic Energy in its reaction said, "we developed our nuclear technology on the basis of indigenous research and development.

Musharraf has written in his memoirs:

In early 1999 I started seeing the first signs of some suspicious activities by Dr AQ Khan. I was concerned that Dr Khan might have been involved in illicit activities prior to March 2001, but I strongly believe that we have now ensured that he could not get away with anything more, and that once he was removed, the problem would stop. I was wrong. Khan carried out secret nuclear transfers to Libya, Iran, North Korea and other countries.

In September 2003 CIA Director George Tenet showed Musharraf a detailed blueprint of Pakistan's P-1 centrifuge that had been seized from Khan's nuclear network. Investigations revealed that AQ Khan had started his activities as far back as 1987 primarily with Iran. In 1994-95 Dr AQ Khan had ordered the manufacture of 200 P-1 centrifuges that had been discarded by Pakistan in the mid-80s.

These had been dispatched to Dubai for onward distribution. Dr Khan was running a very personalized underground network of technology transfers around the world with his base in Dubai. The irony is that the Dubai-based network had employed several Indians, some of whom have since vanished. There is strong probability that the genesis of the Indian uranium enrichment programme may also have its roots in the Dubai-based network and could be a copy of the Pakistani centrifuge design. This has also been recently alluded to by an eminent US non-proliferation analyst.

The chapter on nuclear proliferation describes in detail how Khan built his nuclear proliferation network with bases in Dubai and Europe - from 1975 when he first offered his services to Pakistan till March 2001 when he retired as chairman of Khan Research Laboratories. Accusations that India's nuclear programme was based on Pakistan's could very well have ramifications on the Indo-Pak peace process, if included in the published version of Musharraf's memoirs."

Royden D'Souza

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