Musharraf says Pakistan not complicit on bin Laden

Pakistan's exiled former President Pervez Musharraf said on Thursday that "absolute negligence and not...

A television frame grab taken 03/11/2001 from a videotape broadcast by Al-Jazeera satellite TV, shows terror suspect Saudi born Osama bin Laden. Picture: AFP

<country-region w:st="on">Pakistan</country-region>'s exiled former President Pervez Musharraf said on Thursday that "absolute negligence and not complicity" was behind his country's Osama bin Laden fiasco and <state w:st="on">Washington and <place w:st="on"><city w:st="on">Islamabad must put that episode behind them and rebuild trust.

"We must convince the world and the United States that the issue of Osama bin Laden was not complicity; it was negligence of a very monumental order," he said in a speech in <state w:st="on"><place w:st="on">Washington.

<country-region w:st="on">U.S.</country-region> special forces' killing of the al Qaeda leader in <country-region w:st="on">Pakistan</country-region> on May 2 soured relations between the two countries over <country-region w:st="on"><place w:st="on">U.S.</country-region> suspicion its ally knew he was living in a town not far from the Pakistani capital for about five years.

"Two years of that five years was during my time. I confidently and surely say that there was not complicity because I am very sure of one thing: that I didn't know, whether one believes it or not," said Musharraf.

The 67-year-old former general ruled the nuclear-armed Islamic country from 1999-2008 and allied Pakistan with the United States after the September 11 attacks, forging close ties with then-President George W. Bush.

Dispelling suspicions over bin Laden would be "the starting point of re-establishing some kind of trust and confidence in each other," he said.

Musharraf, who lives in <city w:st="on">London but plans return to <country-region w:st="on">Pakistan</country-region> next year and participate in 2013 elections, outlined steps <city w:st="on">Islamabad and <state w:st="on"><place w:st="on">Washington needed to take to restore trust in relations he said were "at their lowest in a decade".

In addition to dispelling the bin Laden suspicions, <country-region w:st="on">Pakistan</country-region> had to address <country-region w:st="on">U.S.</country-region> anxiety that it is not actively pursuing the Haqqani group and other extremists living along its border with <country-region w:st="on"><place w:st="on">Afghanistan</country-region>, he said.

"The <country-region w:st="on">United States</country-region> must show consideration to our sensitivities" about sovereignty, nuclear weapons and <country-region w:st="on">India</country-region>, including the divided and disputed <place w:st="on"><placetype w:st="on">territory of <placename w:st="on">Kashmir, said Musharraf.

Pakistanis resented <country-region w:st="on"><place w:st="on">U.S.</country-region> drone attacks on militant targets that often killed innocent civilians, he said.

The country also sought from <state w:st="on">Washington "a more balanced treatment of <country-region w:st="on">Pakistan</country-region> and <country-region w:st="on">India</country-region> and understanding that <country-region w:st="on"><place w:st="on">Pakistan</country-region>'s nuclear capability is because of an existential threat," said Musharraf.