US Media Getting it “All Wrong” on Pakistan: Durrani



Ambassador Durrani

Washington, DC: Pakistan’s ambassador in US Mahmud Ali Durrani has accused the mainstream US media of “getting the story all wrong” when it comes to Pakistan’s efforts to root out terrorism and Islamic extremism.
“None of their information is correct,” he told The Washington Diplomat, a publication focused on the diplomatic corps based in Washington. “We are more than victims of terrorism, but there are people who don’t believe us. Pakistan has become a fall guy for all the bad things happening in the neighborhood,” he added. He said the attack on former premier Benazir Bhutto’s homecoming procession was carried out either by Al Qaeda or the Taliban, or a combination of the two. Neither the governments of Pakistan nor India was involved. “Benazir Bhutto and Musharraf had the same agenda. They were two allies. These people who did this have a very narrow vision of Islam. They probably think she’s not a real Muslim.” In the long term, he was hopeful, liberal forces would galvanize and get together, leaving their differences behind to fight the common enemy.
Durrani said the possibility of President Musharraf forming a coalition with Benazir Bhutto was “high” because the government had exonerated her of any possible crimes. “By law, anybody who’s convicted of corruption cannot run. But in those cases, which were under investigation for 10 years and never proven, we give amnesty. The allegations of corruption against Benazir were not proven. The government wants a consensus so that we move ahead without any acrimony or mistrust.”
He conceded that “Pakistan was in bed with the Taliban when they were governing Afghanistan, for an excellent reason. We always supported the government in Kabul, irrespective of who it was. But that’s history now. We gave that up after 9/11, when we made a 180-degree switch because we found that was in our interest.”
The interview took place at what the journal calls “Pakistan’s $17 million embassy on International Drive.” Durrani said Pakistan has “almost licked” Al Qaeda after the 9/11 attacks but everything changed after the US invaded Iraq, reviving Al Qaeda. He said global pledges made to Afghanistan had not been honored, warning, “If you don’t give them an alternative way of life, they will kill. This is the only thing they know.”
There was also a growing nexus between Al Qaeda and international drug barons. He said criticism of Pakistan’s peace agreement in the tribal areas was “totally misconstrued” and a “lot of BS (bullshit)”.
He said as ambassador he had no problems with the administration or the public but he had one with the media, which is getting the Pakistan story wrong. He defended his country on the Daniel Pearl and Mukhtar Mai cases. He explained, “Danny Pearl goes to meet the bad guys and gets in trouble. Tomorrow night, walk into some bad neighborhood of DC, and you’re also likely to get in trouble … One rape in Pakistan? There are more unreported rapes in the United States than the total number of rapes in Pakistan. If it happens in a village following some stupid custom, then people perceive that it’s happening all over the country.”
About US unpopularity in Pakistan, the ambassador said, “If today, you have a crowd of 1,000 people chanting anti-American slogans and somebody offers to give out US visas, 900 would definitely accept, if not all of them. Pakistani people like American values and the American system.”

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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