One of the Bush administration's key allies, Pakistan's President Perves Musharaf, expressed reservations about the effect of the war in Iraq on the war on terror and the U.S. standing in the Muslim world. In a one-on-one interview, NBC's Tom Brokaw asked him whether the capture of Saddam has made the world a safer place or energized and enlarged the terrorist.
Pervez Musharraf: It's not the issue of capturing Saddam Hussein. I don't think. There's a bigger issue involved. The deeper issue is the Muslim sentiment. The Muslim sentiment of all political disputes involving Muslims, where Muslims are being seen on television, daily, being killed. Palestinians, we see every day what is happening there. All these are images which have created an antipathy against the United States in the Islamic world.
Brokaw: President Bush called on Israel to freeze the settlements, to withdraw some, and to treat the Palestinians with more humanity. Do you believe he didn't go far enough in dealing with the Israelis?
Musharraf: Well maybe. I'll give him a little leeway for the elections are coming up. But what I would like to say is we have to resolve the Palestinian dispute. And who can? It is United States and President Bush.
Brokaw: What you're saying is, even if the United States is successful in Iraq, and that's still a very large and open question--
Brokaw: It won't resolve the issue in the Middle East for this country, unless more is done about Israel?
Musharraf: Absolutely. I am --
Brokaw: And did you tell that to the president?
Musharraf: Yes, indeed. I've told him. We are fighting terrorism in its immediate context. That's not very far-sighted.
Brokaw: You think there's enough dialogue about that in this country?
Musharraf: I don't think so. And that is why I get sometimes disappointed. I am continuously saying that.
Brokaw: Do you think the American war against Iraq was a mistake?
Musharraf: Well, I wouldn't comment on that. But I will certainly say that it has complicated the issue.
Brokaw: In your part of the world.
Musharraf: In the Islamic world. In the Iraqi region. In the Middle East.
Brokaw: Made it worse for America?
Brokaw: What is the role, as you understand it now, of Osama bin Laden in al-Qaeda? Is he still the mastermind of operations and still running it on a day-to-day basis?
Musharraf: I don't think so at all. Because the running of such an international organization needs communication, needs contact. And if he communicates, he's heard. We've got all the means.
Brokaw: Mr. President, you may not have heard this. But in the Democratic Party in this country, there is a great suspicion at many levels that you know where Osama Bin Laden is, and that he will be captured just before the American presidential election, so that he will be a trophy for you and for President Bush.
Musharraf: I think that's quite hilarious. I know that this is a feeling. There's some people even in Pakistan who ask me this. How can anyone imagine this? Here in this world, where you can't hide anything. The media, you people are so active. Everyone is everywhere.
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