Prime Minister Tony Blair
Press Conference with Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf
October 5, 2001
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-Queda 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 worlds 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.
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 others 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.
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
I simply say to you that I dont 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
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
Crown copyright material reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO.