Musharraf: US-Pakistan relationship at new low

October 23, 2011 - 8:25 PM
Musharraf-Pakistan

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf speaks at a University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service lecture in Little Rock, Ark., Thursday, Oct.20, 2011. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said Thursday that the relationship between Pakistan and the United States is at its lowest point and plagued by "total mistrust."

Musharraf told an audience in Arkansas that the Pakistani military was guilty of "terrible negligence" in allowing Osama bin Laden to go undetected before he was killed in a U.S. raid in May. He also said Pakistan hasn't done enough to target Taliban-affiliated militants known as the Haqqani network.

But Musharraf said U.S. leaders are wrong to accuse Pakistan of aiding militants. The retired general — who took power in a 1999 coup and stepped down in 2008 — blamed American mistakes in Afghanistan for the Taliban's re-emergence.

"Pakistan is a victim and not a perpetrator of terrorism," Musharraf said. He said Pakistan, despite its potential, was heading toward becoming a "failed state."

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Islamabad on Thursday for meetings with Pakistan's leaders. Clinton said the U.S. would go after militants in Pakistan with or without the government's help.

Musharraf, who has lived in Dubai and London since leaving office, said during Thursday night's speech that he is planning an election bid to reclaim the presidency in 2013. But he also must face allegations by Pakistani prosecutors that he was part of a conspiracy to assassinate ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in late 2007. Bhutto, too, was living in self-exile in Dubai before returning to Pakistan.

Musharraf denies any wrongdoing in connection with the Bhutto slaying.

Asked Thursday by a person in the audience why he was going back to Pakistan, Musharraf said: "I'm going to win. That's why I'm going back."