Musharraf: Bhutto Knew Of Risks
Pakistan President Tells "60 Minutes" His Government Provided All Possible Security
Jan. 6, 2008
(CBS) Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, leads a country in crisis ten days after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Pakistan is the only Islamic country with nuclear bombs, a place where the influence of the Taliban and al Qaeda is growing.
The Bush administration hopes Musharraf can save his country, but he's the man many Pakistanis blame for its crisis. Was he responsible for the assassination, as many Pakistanis believe? Did his government fail to provide adequate protection? Or did Benazir Bhutto take unnecessary risks?
Lara Logan asked these questions of President Musharraf on Saturday in Islamabad, his first interview since the Bhutto assassination.
"I knew that she's under threat. She herself knew that. I told her personally," Musharraf says.
"So it was just a matter of time, do you think?" Logan asks.
"It's your luck," Musharraf replies. "There's no real protection against a suicide bomber really."
Benazir Bhutto's luck ran out on December 27th. She was leaving a campaign rally in her bid to become prime minister for the third time. Bhutto was waving and smiling from her vehicle as excited supporters swarmed around her.
Gunshots rang out. Then, moments later, a suicide bomber blew himself up. In less than two hours, the announcement came that Bhutto was dead.
"That came as an utter shock. It came as an utter shock," Musharraf remembers.
Asked what the first thing was that went through his mind when he heard the news, Musharraf tells Logan, "Well, I knew there was going to be a disturbance in the country and I immediately told the army commander and told everyone to alert everyone, and we must take immediate measures to control any kind of agitation, any kind of emotional outburst."
The moment word of Bhutto's death hit the streets, riots broke out; much of the rage was directed at President Musharraf, her main political rival.
"By the time of her assassination, how would you describe the nature of your relationship with her?" Logan asks.
"Up and down. It wasn't constant - I had asked her not to come before the election, and that we will arrange - then she could come after the election, which she agreed. She had agreed. But then she decided to come all of a sudden. Now that changed a little. It upset me a little," Musharraf says.
"Were you feeling that she was not sticking to her agreements with you, that she wasn't keeping her word?" Logan asks.
"Well, to an extent yes. She used to change the goalposts frequently, depending on the ups and downs here in the country," Musharraf replies.
"It sounds like she was annoying you," Logan remarks.
"On many occasions," Musharraf admits. "But on many other occasions she was positive."
"Did you like her?" Logan asks.
"I think in such a situation it's not your personal like and dislikes. It’s more for the nation that I thought one has to interact with her," Musharraf says.
"When I hear words like that, you know, 'One has to interact with her for the sake of the nation,' sounds to me like you didn’t like her very much," Logan remarks.
"No I wouldn't say I didn’t like her - well, I like or dislike, I didn't have any kind of personal friendship with her," Musharraf says.
The president was upset with Bhutto last October, when, in spite of warnings, she went ahead with a rally in Karachi on her return from self-imposed exile in Dubai. Her convoy was attacked, with two blasts killing close to 150 people.
"Now, in Karachi we knew from Sheikh Mohammad of Dubai, I mean, I got information, intelligence from him. We had our own intelligence. He sent intelligence that there are suicide bombers there targeting her. We told her this," Musharraf explains. "And she knew it. We told her. Don’t do it!"
"And 145 people died," Logan remarks.
"We offered. We said that we can give you a helicopter," Musharraf says. "But she decided to go in that procession. That's what happened."
Asked if he thinks that was a mistake, Musharraf tells Logan, "Yes, indeed. Absolutely."
Produced By Max McClellan, Jeff Newton and Harry Radliffe
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