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United Kingdom
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Press Conference with Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf
Islamabad, Pakistan
October 5, 2001

PRIME MINISTER

President Musharraf took a brave decision, and the right decision, to place Pakistan as a key member of the international coalition condemning the 11th September atrocity. His courage and leadership are not just a tribute to him but serve directly the interests of Pakistan.

I want to make two points very clearly at the outset. The evidence against Osama bin Laden is overwhelming and compelling. Several of the hijackers have been traced directly to the al-Qu’eda terrorist camps in Afghanistan. There is no serious doubt that he is guilty. We will release here the document we have put in the British Parliament outlining part of the basis for our conclusions. Any action we take is not against the Afghan people who are his victims too. Still less is it directed against Islam. This is a lie from Osama bin Laden. I want to make it clear that Islam is a peaceful religion. The vast majority of decent Moslems throughout the world, including here in Pakistan and in Britain, were appalled by the 11 September atrocity. Such an act which spilt the blood of hundreds of innocent Moslems as well as others is wholly contrary to the proper teaching of the Koran.

I read personally the message of the Koran insofar as it can be translated. And the God of the Koran is merciful, peaceful and good. The 11th of September was an outrage against the civilised values of all peoples of all faiths throughout the world. This was not a crime against the West. It was a crime against humanity. It has been condemned therefore by Moslems the world over.

President Musharraf and I have had detailed and very worthwhile discussions. We have agreed that if the current Taliban regime fails to yield up bin Laden and it falls, then its successor must be broad-based with every key ethnic grouping represented, including the Pashtun (phon.), and that Pakistan has a valid interest in close involvement with how such a successor regime might be established.

We have also agreed to restart UK-Pakistan defence co-operation on measures for bilateral assistance and to help the work towards a new IMF programme for Pakistan, Pakistan having completed successfully the first phase of its present programme. In addition we will support strongly the European Union Trade and Co-operation Agreement with Pakistan, due to be finalised on Monday. And we stand ready to help in issues like debt and support for budgetary programmes in the context of the new IMF programme that I am sure will be agreed.

In particular we have made it clear that we and other countries will provide the resources necessary to help Pakistan cope with the significant refugee problem on its borders and in Pakistan. We are, as you know, providing some $40 million to help Afghan refugees and a further $15 million to assist the host communities for these refugees in Pakistan. We believe that the solution to the humanitarian crisis is every bit as important as any action that is undertaken.

The 11th of September has changed the world. Nations make their choices as to whether they will help in the fight against international terrorism, or stand aside. I believe that Pakistan has made the right choice. The result will be a significant and lasting strengthening of the outside world’s relations with Pakistan. We in Britain will play our full part, we will not walk away. Neither will others. Finally I welcome the roadmap to democracy set out by President Musharraf in August. That is the right path.

Britain and Pakistan have a shared history that as you all know goes back many years. We are bound together still, not least by the almost three-quarters of a million British citizens of Pakistani origin. Now is the time to use our past and our present friendship to help resolve the current crisis for the improvement of the lot of people, not just in this region, but again throughout the world. Thank you.

PRESIDENT OF PAKISTAN

Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, it was my pleasure and the pleasure of my government to have welcomed Prime Minister Blair and his team to Pakistan. I would like to express my gratitude to him for having taken this journey to Pakistan and may I also say to have initiated this process of a new beginning of restoring the contacts between our two countries. We discussed in great detail all issues of bilateral concern. We obviously focussed a lot on the outcome of what happened, the tragic events of 11 September. I personally condemn this human tragedy that occurred, and also condole with the United States government on this tragedy.

We exchanged notes on the issue of Afghanistan. On the issue of evidence. I personally also, and my government feels, that there is evidence which is leading to an association between this terrorist act and Osama bin Laden. However we are not here standing in judgement on the details of this evidence. However we did I would say with satisfaction, understand each other’s concerns on the …. of Afghanistan and likely future events in Afghanistan.

Other than this, we did also discuss our bilateral relations. I would like to express my gratitude to the Prime Minister for his understanding of the problems being confronted by Pakistan and my government. I would also like to express my gratitude to the Prime Minister for his generous assistance to us in the economic field and also his assurances of future assistance to Pakistan. I am extremely grateful to you Prime Minister. And I also would like to take this opportunity of saying that Pakistan certainly looks forward to much healthier, much closer, much better relations with the United Kingdom in the future. Thank you very much.

QUESTION

Do you think after your discussions with President Musharraf, that military action is inevitable. That the Taliban will not give up Osama bin Laden and do you think that military action is the only way to remove the Taliban government because both of you are clearly talking about the Taliban government going in Afghanistan.

PRIME MINISTER

I simply say to you that I don’t intend to discuss the details of any possible military action, but simply go back again to the events of 11 September and afterwards. We did not react swiftly or in haste to that in a military sense. The United States of America has, I think, behaved in a responsible way by considering both the evidence and also the right way to proceed, and what is important is that any action that we take is proportionate, and is targeted, that it is not directed against the Afghan people because they are not our enemy in this situation, but against those who have committed acts of terrorism and those who are shielding them.

And I would like to take this opportunity here in Pakistan to state that very clearly indeed. Our desire is simply to see justice done. Not for revenge, but for justice, to make sure that people who have been exporting terrorism around the world are prevented from carrying on doing so, and that the Afghan people themselves, who in many ways have been victims of this, are given a stable and secure future.

END


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Crown copyright material reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO.