Jerusalem: Pakistan`s former president General Pervez Musharraf has denied having knowledge about the al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden living in his country during his tenure.
In his first ever interview to an Israeli daily, Ha`aretz, Musharraf insisted on his innocence and said he was 100% sure about himself that he did not know he (Osama bin Laden) was there.
"I am very sure about my answer. Especially so because when they say bin Laden was there for five years, that means two years under my watch. Well, one cannot be sure of others, but one can be sure of oneself. And I am 100 percent sure of myself that I did not know he was there," Musharraf said when asked about bin Laden`s presence.
"I say the question is, was there complicity or negligence? And I strongly believe it was negligence. Of course, that`s not great either, it`s terrible negligence and shameful. But, while both are bad - complicity would be worse," said the former president, who became a key ally of western in fight against terror post 9/11.
"I don`t have any doubt of that. I know there was no complicity for those two years. And perhaps there was complicity during the latter three years, but I don`t believe that either. It`s not possible. It was negligence," he argued.
Musharraf, explaining the negligence, said that since Osama was not using telephone communications, it is human intelligence that comes to ISI, but no one knew him around that area.
"None of the neighbours knew him," he stressed.
The former Pakistani leader also expresses anger at what he sees as a tendency in the West to portray bin Laden`s hideout as easy to spot, thus hinting that the Pakistanis were either completely incompetent or, more likely, cooperating with the terrorist.
"They say in the West that he was living in a garrison town, and that the house was huge, with exceptionally high walls which stood out. But I disagree with all of this. This was no Fort Bragg [a massive US Army base in North Carolina]."
"He was staying in an open, tourist resort kind of place. Anyone going to the north could stop there. There are hotels, and schools and stores - so the story is exaggerated," Musharraf pointed out.
"And the house? It was bigger than average, but not much. And walls? They don`t necessarily have walls in the US around houses, but in Pakistan the first thing a man does when he gets a house is build a wall around it. That may be abnormal in the West, but it`s perfectly normal in Pakistan and does not arouse any suspicion at all," he argued in defence.