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Musharraf calls for bridging trust deficit

  |   June 9, 2011 at 1:59 AM
WASHINGTON, June 9 (UPI) -- The most urgent need in the strained U.S.-Pakistan relations is to restore mutual trust, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said.

In a 1,700-word column written for CNN, the former military ruler, now living in exile in Britain, said his country finds itself "in the eye of the terrorism storm" while an "environment of controversies, contradictions, distortions and mutual suspicions prevails all around, polluting and weakening the war on terror."

Musharraf, who took power in Pakistan after a bloodless military coup in 1999 and now seeks to return home to run for office, said the current environment does not bode well for the global war on terror.

"The first and most urgent need of the hour is to restore trust. We must speak the truth with each other very openly and frankly. Pakistan needs to explain clearly why it is not acting against the Haqqani group (suspected of using Pakistani sanctuaries to attack coalition forces in Afghanistan) or when it will operate in North Waziristan.

"The intelligence agencies of Pakistan should be purged of any elements who may not be committed to the official line of fighting al-Qaida and the Taliban," Musharraf said.

On Pakistanis' "antipathy" toward the United States, Musharraf blamed it on the "abandonment" of his country after 1989 with a strategic shift of U.S. policy towards India and military sanctions against Pakistan. He said other reasons included the U.S.-India civilian nuclear deal, the U.S. military presence and operations in Afghanistan and its drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal regions.

On the finding of the al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in the garrison town of Abbottabad before he was killed by U.S. forces last month, Musharraf blamed Pakistan's "incompetence and callousness of the highest degree" in not being aware of bin Laden's presence and ruled out any complicity with the militants.

He said any suggestion of complicity in hiding bin Laden in the country for five years would also involve him when he was president.

"I knew nothing about it, and I cannot imagine in my wildest dreams that the intelligence agencies were hiding it from me," he wrote.

He said the United States must "trust" that Pakistan is committed to fighting terrorism in its own interest.

"We, as a nation, have to boldly demonstrate our resolve towards moderation and rejection of extremism from within our society," he said.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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