Mush govt had al Qaeda sympathisers: Cheney

Al Qaeda sympathisers occupied key slots in former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf`s government.

Last Updated: Aug 30, 2011, 14:43 PM IST

Washington: Al Qaeda sympathisers occupied
key slots in former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf`s government, and Osama bin Laden`s presence in Abbottabad suggests the terror group enjoyed significant sympathy, former
US Vice President Dick Cheney has written in his memoirs.

Cheney, who was the deputy to George W Bush from 2001 to
2009, says in the period after 9/11 the US-Pak ties were
bedevilled by a lot of problems before things started changing
in by around 2004.

"Pakistan was on the edge. There were major problems in
US-Pakistani relations. President Pervez Musharraf`s hold on
power was tenuous and he had al Qaeda sympathisers in key
slots in his government," Cheney writes in his memoirs
released today.

He, however, does not name the government functionaries he
refers to as al Qaeda sympathisers in Musharraf`s government.

The 533-page book has no reference to India and the
India-US relationship, which George W Bush, considers a key
achievement of his administration`s foreign policy.

"Pakistan`s radical Islamic movement was strong and areas
of country were hosting al Qaeda operating bases. Pakistan`s
stability was a major concern, if radicals managed to take
control, they would control the country`s nuclear arsenal," he
writes.

Cheney said the equations between Pakistan and the US
started changing by 2004 and the Pakistanis helped capture or
kill hundreds of al Qaeda terrorists in Pakistan, including
the mastermind of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad.

"In Pakistan President Musharraf had signed up with the
United States after 9/11 and was providing significant support
for our operations in Afghanistan," he says.

Cheney says as Musharraf`s hold on power started becoming
weaker, the US increasingly found his commitments not
translating into actions.

"We also had much to do in Pakistan, where Musharraf had
provided key support, but had an increasingly weak hold on
power over a government whose loyalties were at times
divided," he wrote.

Cheney refers to his visit to Pakistan in early 2007
wherein he was accompanied by CIA Deputy Director Steve Kappes
and during his meetings with Musharraf he strongly raised the
question of terrorist safe havens.

"We discussed with Musharraf the matter of the tribal
areas on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan,
which both the Taliban and al Qaeda were using to regroup and
rearm before crossing the border to attack again," he wrote.

PTI