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Musharraf: US-Pakistan relationship at new low

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said Thursday that Pakistan and the United States were mutually to blame for a relationship that's reached its lowest point and remains plagued by "total mistrust."
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said Thursday that Pakistan and the United States were mutually to blame for a relationship that's reached its lowest point and remains plagued by "total mistrust."

The Pakistani military was guilty of "terrible negligence" in allowing Osama bin Laden to go undetected before he was killed in a U.S. raid, Musharraf told an audience in Arkansas. Musharraf also said Pakistan hadn't done enough to target Taliban-affiliated militants known as the Haqqani network and that slain Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi had failed as a dictator.

On the same day that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned military leaders in Islamabad about militants, Musharraf - a short distance from her husband's presidential library in Little Rock, Ark. - said that neither Pakistan nor the U.S. could defeat militants on their own.

If U.S. military forces went into Pakistan's tribal areas to attack militants, they "will be totally bogged down," Musharraf said later Thursday in an interview with The Associated Press.

"Perhaps a hit-and-run action with helicopters like they did with Osama bin Laden, but then how many such actions can they do?" Musharraf said. "And they'll suffer a lot of casualties."

Musharraf, a retired general who took power in a 1999 coup and stepped down in 2008, said the Pakistani military and intelligence services needed to "clarify" to the U.S. their strategy for defeating the Haqqani network.

But Musharraf blamed American mistakes in Afghanistan for the Taliban's re-emergence, calling Pakistan a "victim and not a perpetrator of terrorism." And he criticized comments last month from now-retired Adm. Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said Pakistan's spy agency supported and encouraged attacks by Haqqani militants.

Musharraf said Mullen's comments were "very, very unfair."

"Don't pass such judgments," he said. "Don't give such accusations. Ask, demand clarifications. But be sure that the overall direction is clear. Pakistan is against terrorism."

Clinton was in Islamabad on Thursday for meetings with Pakistan's leaders. Clinton said the U.S. would go after militants in Pakistan with or without the government's help.

Musharraf, who has lived in Dubai and London since leaving office, said during Thursday night's speech that he is planning an election bid to reclaim the presidency in 2013. But he also must face allegations by Pakistani prosecutors that he was part of a conspiracy to assassinate ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in late 2007. Bhutto, too, was living in self-exile in Dubai before returning to Pakistan.

Musharraf criticized Bhutto and the country's current leadership. Asked Thursday by a person in the audience why he was going back, Musharraf said: "I'm going to win. That's why I'm going back."

He said Pakistan faced internal turmoil over terrorism, a poor economy and the aftermath of devastating floods last year. Without a major change, Pakistan was headed toward becoming a "failed state," he said.

In discussing Gadhafi's death later, Musharraf - who came to power after deposing another political rival, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif - said there were good dictators and bad dictators.

"Dictatorship should facilitate democracy, should ensure that the country transforms into a workable, sustainable democracy," Musharraf said. "That is the job of a good dictator."

Gadhafi did not pass that test, he said. After decades of his rule, Libya is "as illiterate, as backward, as underdeveloped and not prepared for democracy," Musharraf said.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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