Video: Brokaw interviews Pakistan's Musharraf

By Tom Brokaw Correspondent
NBC News
updated 2/8/2004 8:06:38 PM ET 2004-02-09T01:06:38

NBC's Tom Brokaw reports from the official residence of Pakistan’s President Musharraf where, in a wide ranging exclusive interview they talked about reports there will be a spring offensive along the Pakistan-Afghan border.

Tom Brokaw: It’s reported now in Washington that Secretary of State Powell is coming to see you before the end of the month, and one of the items on his agenda will be some kind of a spring offensive. If he says, we’d like to put more troops in Afghanistan to put more pressure on Al Qaida, would you recommend against that?

President Pervez Musharraf: No, I would support it.  I have all along been saying that there is a requirement of more force.  I have all along been saying that there’s a vacuum in Afghanistan which we have to fill in the countryside.   So I’m for increasing strength there.  That is the way forward.

TB: As long as the American troops stay on the Afghan side of the border. 

PM: Yes indeed, yes indeed.

TB: Would it ever be possible for American troops to physically operate in Pakistan in the frontier region in an effort to root out terrorism?

PM: Not only is it not possible, but it’s not required.  Here is no, the enemy, I am calling the Al Qaida or the Taliban abettors; they are not in such strength that a whole operation, a massive operation has to be launched.  There are people, there are groups hiding in small numbers.  And we have developed a very effective quick reaction force.  A mobile, hard-hitting, quick reaction force.  So that is what is required, and we are capable of doing all of that.

TB: Your country has been the center of a lot of news and controversy this past week because of the confession of Dr. A.Q. Khan, who was the father of the Pakistani nuclear bomb.  That in fact he sold nuclear secrets to Libya, North Korea and to Iran. Were you proud of what Dr. Khan was doing?

PM: Yes.  Proud of it as long as he did what he did for Pakistan.

TB: It appears to a lot of people that a deal was struck with Dr. Khan by you.  That he confesses, you pardon him, and say we’re moving on.  The Washington Post said this week, ‘that’s a whitewash.’  It hurts your credibility and your integrity.

PM: I disagree with it absolutely.  One must understand reality.  There’s an international perception.  There’s a domestic perception.  There’s a person involved who’s a hero because of what he’s done for us.  He’s a hero—he was a hero even for me.  And here’s a person who’s brought the deterrence—given us deterrence, potential in the unconventional field.  So this certainly is—is a very, very sensitive issue.  Now, he did something that could hurt the nation.  I was in a dilemma, certainly.  The dilemma is: he’s a great man, he’s a hero, and he’s a hero of every individual in the street.  Yet he has done something which could bring harm to the nation.  Now how do I deal with it?  We had to handle it very carefully.

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