Bush acknowledges Pakistan paid high price for taking on extremists


WASHINGTON: Former US president George W Bush has acknowledged that Pakistan “paid a high price for taking on extremists” and said its forces were successful for several years in targeting Al Qaeda militants crossing the porous border with Afghanistan.
In his book “Decision Points” published on Tuesday, Bush said he had “complex” relations with Pakistan and former president Pervez Musharraf, who pledged to support the US after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Bush said, “Over time, it became clear that Musharraf either would not or could not fulfill all of his promises.” “Some in the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, retained close ties to Taliban officials. Others wanted an insurance policy in case America abandoned Afghanistan and India tried to gain influence there,” Bush wrote.
Bush said he grew frustrated by late in his presidency. He recalled a meeting with US Special Forces returning from Afghanistan in which one troop pleaded with him, “We need permission to go kick some ass inside Pakistan.”
“Bush said he could not reveal details of his decision but noted that the Predator, an unmanned predator drone, “was capable of conducting video surveillance and firing laser-guided bombs”.
“I authorised the intelligence community to turn up the pressure on the extremists. Many of the details of our actions remain classified. But soon after I gave the order, the press started reporting more Predator strikes,” he wrote.
Musharraf raised controversy in 2006 when the US threatened to bomb Pakistan “back to the Stone Age” if it did not lend support after the September 11 attacks. In the memoir, Bush said Colin Powell, then secretary of state, called Musharraf on September 13, 2001 and told him he “had to decide whose side he was on” and gave him “non-negotiable demands” including breaking relations with the Taliban and denying Al Qaeda havens inside Pakistan.
Bush said that Pakistan’s cooperation was impeded by its “obsession” with historic rival India. Both Bush and Obama have sought warmer relations with the world’s largest democracy. “In almost every conversation we had, Musharraf accused India of wrongdoing,” Bush wrote.