U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell
And President Pervez Musharraf
October 16, 2001
PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF: (In Arabic: In the name of God most merciful and compassionate). Ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you to this press conference. Let me say that we have had very useful discussions. The visit of the United States Secretary of State comes at a time of great challenge for Pakistan. His presence here symbolizes the new, rejuvenated relationship between Pakistan and the United States. We discussed a whole range of bilateral issues. The two sides agreed to work together in order to develop and strengthen cooperation in all possible areas.
The terrorist outrage in New York and Washington on 11th September was rightly condemned by the whole world community. The government and people of Pakistan spontaneously expressed shock and grief over the death of innocent people, offered condolences to the bereaved families all over the world, and affirmed solidarity with the American people. We joined the world community in offering cooperation to bring perpetrators, organizers, and the sponsors of the terrorist attacks to justice.
Compliance with the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions by the Taliban government would have saved Afghanistan from the damage it is suffering since 7th of October. We grieve for the innocent victims in Afghanistan. We regret that the Government of Afghanistan jeopardized the interests of millions of its own people.
Our decision to support the international campaign against terrorism in all its manifestations is based on principles. The extraordinary session of the OIC, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Foreign Ministers held on the 10th of October has endorsed this position taken by Pakistan. It has also denounced the minority and fringe voices that tried to cause harm to Islam and the Muslims.
I emphasized to the Secretary that the root causes of most acts of terrorism lie in political oppression and denial of justice. In order to achieve durable peace or durable results, the current war on terrorism must address and eliminate its root causes. The situation in Afghanistan presents a challenge as well as an opportunity. We should focus not only on combating terrorism, but also on helping the Afghans establish a durable political system and the rehabilitation and reconstruction of their country. We agreed that durable peace in Afghanistan would only be possible through the establishment of a broad-based multi-ethnic government representing the demographic contours of Afghanistan freely chosen by the Afghans without outside interference. Former King Zahir Shah, political leaders, moderate Taliban leaders, elements from the Northern Alliance, tribal elders, Afghans living outside their country, all can play a role in this regard.
The political process needs to be placed on a fast track in order to forestall the possibility of a political vacuum. It should not lag behind the fast-moving events in the military field nor should any attempt be made by any warring faction to impose itself on Afghanistan in the wake of the military strikes against the Taliban. The success of any political process will also depend on the economic conditions. Afghanistan has been destroyed by over two decades of conflict. The socio-economic infrastructure has been devastated. Agriculture is in ruins. Pastures have been destroyed. Millions of mines litter the landscape. A massive reconstruction effort is required to revive the economy.
Assistance would also be required for the repatriation of the millions of Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran and for the millions of Afghans displaced internally due to fighting, drought, and economic difficulties. A durable political settlement, economic reconstruction, and return of Afghans to their country would also eliminate the terrorists who have found safe havens in a war-torn Afghanistan. This is why I believe that the military campaign in Afghanistan should be short and targeted and it should be followed immediately by application of viable political and economic strategies.
I briefed Secretary Powell about Pakistan's desire to develop tension- free relations with India. I emphasized that normalization of relations would require that the Kashmir dispute is resolved in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people. Kashmir remains at the heart of Pakistan-India tension. We agreed on the need for the two sides to address this and other bilateral issues with sincerity and with a sense of purpose.
Secretary Powell informed me about US willingness to play a helpful role in the resolution of Pakistan-India differences. We agreed that peace and stability in South Asia is not only in the interest of Pakistan and India but also of the entire region and the world at large.
In the end, I would like to say that we have ushered in an era of closer bilateral relations between Pakistan and the United States. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much, Mr. President. Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to be here in Pakistan and I've had very excellent discussions with the President and his cabinet and other colleagues in the course of the morning and our discussions will continue into the afternoon. President Bush asked me to come to Pakistan to demonstrate our enduring commitment to our relationship with Pakistan. We are focusing today on the terrorist threat emanating from Afghanistan, the al-Qaida organization and Usama bin Laden. But we didn't stop there. We are also looking forward to strengthening our cooperation on a full range of bilateral and regional issues. And I made the point to the President that this isn't just a temporary spike in our relationship, but we believe, as a result of the actions taken by Pakistan over the last five weeks, we're truly at the beginning of a strengthened relationship, a relationship that will grow and thrive in the months and years ahead.
We have had good talks today on how to build on our current, excellent cooperation against international terrorism. The United States views that what we are building here is, as I just said, is a solid foundation for a long-term and improved relationship. I expressed our thanks to President Musharraf for his bold and courageous actions as part of the global coalition against international terrorism. I also expressed our condolences for the many Pakistanis who were lost in the attacks on September 11. It reminds us once again that this attack in New York and the attacks in Washington and what happened in Pennsylvania, but especially in New York, was an attack against the civilized world. Some 80 nations lost citizens in that attack and we must always keep that uppermost in mind. I expressed our thanks to President Musharraf for coming forward so quickly and recognizing that the attacks of September 11 may have taken place on American soil, but they were in fact attacks on Pakistan as well as all members of the civilized world.
As we met today in Pakistan--a great Muslim nation--I reiterated that we have no quarrel with the Islamic faith or the Afghan people. Our campaign is against those who pervert a great religion in the service of evil. We also discussed how to ease the plight of the Afghan refugees who are fleeing Taliban misrule. Pakistan has played a leading role in receiving and caring for Afghan refugees for many, many years and the United States has been the largest foreign donor of humanitarian aid. Even today as part of our military campaign, U.S. planes have been dropping badly needed food supplies to the Afghan people.
We also discussed, as the President noted, our mutual interest in a stable Afghanistan. I shared with him and he shared with me our thoughts on how to begin the process of rebuilding Afghanistan even as the military element of our strategy continues and how to help the people of that country establish a stable broad-based government, one that does not harbor terrorists and one that welcomes refugees instead of producing them. I also reassured Pakistan of America's support and the support of the international community as Pakistan joins the international community in this campaign.
For example, President Bush has lifted a number of sanctions to allow us to resume cooperation with Pakistan. We have also helped reschedule 379 million dollars in Pakistan's bilateral debt and voted for new IMF loans. We had a very straightforward discussion on the debt problem that is facing Pakistan and I have told the President that I would take his strong message of what needs to be done back to my colleagues in Washington and do everything we can to address the debt issue with rescheduling, with respect to other activities that we can take that will help Pakistan in this time of need.
Finally, we discussed ways to promote stability in South Asia, which we all know is a critically important part of the world. I praised President Musharraf's recent phone call to Prime Minister Vajpayee and we, too, believe that the Kashmir issue is central to the relationship and can be resolved if all parties engaged with a willingness to address their concerns in mutually acceptable ways. Issues must be resolved through peaceful, political and diplomatic means, not through violence and reliance on force, but with a determined respect for human rights. The campaign against al-Qaida and Usama bin Laden and those who harbor them is our top priority. This is what brought me here today. But I am also confident that over time we will be able to expand our cooperation to accomplish the full range of bilateral and multilateral issues that are of importance to both of our nations.
President Musharraf's commitment to return Pakistan to democracy will enhance his effort to deepen social reform, improve education, and improve the lives of his people. We share those important and lofty goals and in the coming months the United States will take concrete steps to strengthen Pakistan's economy and further broaden our commercial and trade ties. Together we can accomplish great things and the American people look forward to the challenge of working with the people of Pakistan in those goal achievements. And I'll be happy along with the President to take a few questions.
QUESTION: I am Saleh Zaafir, I am editor for special reporting, Jang. While condemning terrorism of September 11 and expressing heartfelt sympathies with your great country, I wish to know your views about the struggle of the oppressed people granted by the United Nations Security Council against oppressive regimes which is fairly and sternly still engaged in state terrorism. How would you differentiate such legitimate movements with terrorism? My clear reference is toward dispute of Kashmir, and will you impress upon India to refrain from state terrorism towards the Kashmiri people? Thank you.
SECRETARY POWELL: In my conversations both here and my conversations in India, I will press upon both sides as I have here already today and it isn't a matter of pressing, we have a mutual view on this, that dialogue between the two sides is important, that terrorism has no place in the civilized world and I have expressed my thanks to the President for his condemnation of terrorism with the kind that we saw in Srinagar on the 1st of October. Mutual respect for each other, a desire to accommodate the aspirations of the Kashmiri people and respect for avoiding confrontation and understanding that provocation is to be avoided. But above all, the beginning of a dialogue between the two sides is the most important thing that is needed now. And that is the message I will also be taking to India.
QUESTION: Could you please clarify the situation of . . . there have been a couple of different stories. One is the Taliban's Foreign Minister has defected, the second one is that there is an offer on the table presented by the President last night to you that the Taliban are prepared to hand over Usama bin Laden in exchange of two or three days of halting of the bombardment. Can you tell us if there is any other offer on the table that could resolve this?
SECRETARY POWELL: The President did not say that to me last night.
And with respect to where the foreign minister is, I cannot confirm where he is.
QUESTION: Secretary Powell, what assurances were you able to offer President Musharraf that any post-Taliban government in Afghanistan would be one that is friendly to Pakistan and did you meet with the representatives who are here representing Zahir Shah in the meeting with the Pakistani Government and for President Musharraf, are you prepared to support a U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan as long as it lasts--as long as the U.S. believes it needs to last-in other words, is there a deadline that's in your mind for such a campaign?
SECRETARY POWELL: I did not meet with the representatives of the King who are here. With respect to your first question, in our discussions there was no doubt that both our common goal of seeing that the post- Taliban government in Kabul would be one that represented all the people of Afghanistan and would be a regime that would obviously be friendly to all of its neighbors, to include Pakistan. That has to be one of our goals, otherwise we are just creating a new situation of instability and potential violence.
PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF: On my part of the question, we have decided to be with the coalition in the fight against terrorism and whatever operation is going on in Afghanistan within the parameters-within the three parameters which have been enunciated--that is, the intelligence cooperation, use of air space and logistical support. And to this extent we will certainly carry on cooperating as long as the operation lasts. There are no deadlines which have been fixed as you've indicated, but one really hopes that the operation is short and obviously the duration of the operation is relative to the achievement of military objectives, and therefore one hopes that military objectives are achieved and the operation is short.
QUESTION: President Musharraf, may I ask what you mean by "moderate Taliban." Is there such a thing? Mr. Secretary, does the United States agree that a moderate Taliban belongs in a new Afghanistan?
PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF: Certainly there are a lot of moderate Talibans. Yes, I certainly believe so. Extremism is not in every Taliban so one could...I wouldn't like to get into the details of who are moderates, but one knows for sure there are many moderate elements within the Taliban community.
SECRETARY POWELL: The term "Taliban" defines the current regime but also defines a group of individuals-a group of people. And if you got rid of the regime, there would still be those who might find that the teachings and the feelings and the beliefs of that movement still very important and to the extent that they are willing to participate in the development of a new Afghanistan with everybody being represented, then we would have to listen to them or at least take them into account. You can't export them. You can't send them to another country. You can't ethnically cleanse Afghanistan after this is over, but you can certainly get rid of this particular regime that has driven this country to such devastation and see whether those who used to be adherents of such a regime are now willing to participate in a different kind of government where the rights of all are respected and where it is accepted by the international community.
QUESTION: Our president has advised you or given the proposal that this operation against Afghanistan should be short and should be target- oriented, and Pakistan has also concerns about Northern Alliance being included in the broad-based government that you are looking for. What are your comments on this?
SECRETARY POWELL: First of all we would like the military campaign to be as short as possible. We have no desire to extend the campaign beyond the achievement of its goal. As the President said it has to be as long as necessary to achieve the military goal. With respect to the Northern Alliance, I think we both agree that all, all elements have to be included in discussions of the future of Afghanistan that would include the Northern Alliance, and the southern tribal leaders and all elements. When you say broad based it means all have to have an opportunity to participate in how Afghanistan will be governed in the future.
QUESTION: President Musharraf, your country according to a Gallup Poll and certainly the symptoms on the street is very much against the U.S.- led campaign, 87 per cent against the military strikes. How can you sustain your support if this does become an open-ended commitment and it is not short and targeted as you, and I'm sure Secretary Powell, would like it to be? What if it does take a long time as many U.S. military officials have projected?
PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF: First of all, I would like to say that the results of polls ought to be taken with a little bit of pinch of salt because it depends of how you address the question and you get the results accordingly. However, having said that, one would like to say, certainly majority of the people are against the operation in Afghanistan. They would like to see this operation to be terminated as fast as possible and that is what I would urge the coalition -- to achieve the military objectives and terminate the operation. However, one more factor that needs to be taken into account, the majority of the people of Pakistan are with my government's action. That also is a result of the same Gallup Poll that you are talking of. So maybe you have to analyze both parts and see which one features where. There is a degree of dichotomy in the results of each question.
QUESTION: A question for Secretary Powell. You have expressed thanks for the "bold and courageous actions" as you put it of President Musharraf, at the same time the United States has frozen the assets of a major charity, the Rabita charity, and there are hundreds of schools teaching young boys in this country that Usama bin Laden is a hero. How can you win a war against terrorism if children and young men are being taught that Usama bin Laden is a role model?
SECRETARY POWELL: I think it's false teaching. What kind of a role model is it to be someone who invades another country, helps destroy it, uses it for evil purposes and then goes out murders innocent civilians, claims he is doing that on the basis of his faith that provides for no such action on the part of anyone. So it is false teaching. I am confident that as Pakistan moves forward it will put in place an education system that will teach respect for all faiths, that will be balanced and will be concerned as much about educating youngsters for a bright future as it will about teaching them false lessons about evil people.
PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF: I would like to chip in with whatever the Secretary has said, and I totally agree with him. I think these are extremist views and these are extremist tendencies which are not wide- based at all in Pakistan, and therefore we need to take deeper actions, long-term actions to check such extremist views.
QUESTION: You have spoken a lot about a post-Taliban Afghanistan. How close do you think the regime is to collapsing?
SECRETARY POWELL: I don't know, and I think it best not to speculate. I think the regime is under enormous pressure. Every neighbor that it has, has turned against it. It is the subject of the efforts of the entire international community to go after its finances. There is also a military campaign being directed against it and there are forces inside the country that are operating against it. So it is under enormous pressure but I cannot tell you when that pressure will cause it to collapse. Just can't put a time line on it.
QUESTION: Do you see any anecdotal evidence about what you are seeing in Taliban forces?
SECRETARY POWELL: There is anecdotal evidence that some of the leaders are defecting and that some of the provinces have shifted allegiance. But it doesn't yet paint a complete picture that I can have confidence in.
QUESTION: President Musharraf, the objective, you have said you would like to have achieved it quickly to gain what objective? You would like the action carried out to be terminated quickly to gain what objective?
PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF: No, I wouldn't like to get into the details of the military implementation or the military operation. But this is in the realm of the military action that you certainly need to identify the military objectives to be achieved and then push through those objectives through military action. I wouldn't like to get into the details of what military objectives specifically are.