Chairman and Owner
Atlantic Media Company
Inspired by The Atlantic's enduring partnership with the Aspen Ideas Festival, the third-annual Washington Ideas Forum gathers an audience of 600 people, including government officials, top business executives, global thought leaders, academics, and celebrities. It is the place to hear - and meet - the most prominent thinkers of our time.
This October 5 and 6, the Forum will once again bring the best and brightest to the table for debate, conversation, and idea-sharing.
Before entering media, David founded and owned two (now public) research companies – The Advisory Board Company and The Corporate Executive Board Company. With 50,000 applicants each year, the enterprises are the largest employers of young professional talent in the Washington, D.C., area. During his early 20s, David was a Fulbright Scholar in the Philippines. He graduated from Swarthmore College, and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, a J.D. from Georgetown University, and, more recently, an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Swarthmore. His board memberships include the Council on Foreign Relations, the New America Foundation, KIPP DC, Bridges of Understanding, and the Manila-based Child Protection Network.
President Pervez Musharraf
President Pervez Musharraf occupied, what TIME Magazine described as "the most dangerous job in the world," playing a crucial role in the global war on terror. President Musharraf has
survived two assassination attempts; rooted out militants in his own government; helped direct countless raids against Al Qaeda - both in his cities and in the mountains; and tracked Osama Bin Laden with technical and human intelligence. His astonishingly revealing memoir, In the Line of Fire, chronicles his struggles for the security and political future of his nation, with high stakes for the world at large.
At the start of his presidency, political restructuring was one of the four areas of focus for his government.
He began examining why democracy remained dysfunctional in Pakistan and addressed the core malaise. He empowered the people of Pakistan at the grass roots level through a local government system, which did not previously exist; the women of Pakistan were empowered by gaining reserve seats at every tier of
the Parliament; multiple private TV channels were allowed for the first time in the history of Pakistan, and the electronic and print media began operating independently of the government.
Following the September 11th terror attacks, the United States sought President Musharraf’s support to fight the Taliban. With a vision for a modern, democratic, non-fundamentalist Islamic Pakistan, President Musharraf was one of America’s greatest allies in helping to fight the Taliban.
In the course of his seven years at the helm of affairs in Pakistan, President Musharraf traveled widely all over the world and met many prominent leaders, and many of those leaders came to Pakistan and interacted with him. Such top-level interactions allowed him to develop a sense of the geo-strategic
realities of the world, and various conflict regions. It also crystallized his views and perceptions of key world issues. President Musharraf articulated one such thought to bring harmony into distraught regions in the form of a "strategy of Enlightened Moderation". This captured the imagination of the West in particular, and was adopted by the Islamic World for Enlightened Moderation.
President Musharraf has a vision for Pakistan, and still believes that it is a nation that has all the resources, the potential and all the human capability to be transformed into a progressive, moderate, and prosperous Islamic State.
Monthly journal of literature and opinion, one of the oldest and most respected of U.S. reviews. Published in Boston, it was founded in 1857 by Moses Dresser Phillips. It soon became noted for the quality of its fiction and general articles, contributed by distinguished editors and authors such as James Russell Lowell, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry W. Longfellow, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. In the early 1920s it expanded its scope to political affairs, featuring articles by figures such as Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Booker T. Washington. In the 1970s increasing costs nearly shut down the magazine; it was purchased in 1980 by Mortimer B. Zuckerman and was sold to the National Journal Group in 1999.
Good morning, everyone.I was struck as I began to do just background reading by this fact. PresidentMusharraf is exactly 10 years older than I am. The volume of what he's worked intohis 68 years so surpasses my 58 years.Let me give you a (inaudible) that volume. So born in 1943. That's four yearsbefore the great partition of India and Pakistan. President Musharraf's earliestmemories were being on that night train traveling to Pakistan as it was beingcreated as a country. They arrived, lived with 18 people in a two-room apartment.The family moved to Ankara, Turkey, where President Musharraf learned Turkish. Hecame back and was not a model citizen in high school. He created -- I have threeteenage boys, something I don't -- I'm not favorably disposed to -- small time bombsduring his high school years.Then was in the military, career military, was chief of the Army Staff, the 13thchairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and then, in an odd and surprising bloodlesscoup, became CEO and then president of Pakistan.There have been six assassination attempts. He has fought in two wars. He is inone marriage, two daughters, two Pekingese dogs. It is only as to the dogs that mylife has been fuller and more exemplary.Let me begin with that odd bloodless coup. Just tell us a story. You were -- it's1999, you were overseas.MUSHARRAF: Yes. Yes I was. I was in Sri Lanka. And I returned from there. WhenI returned I -- I was traveling in a normal commercial flight. We had about, Ithink, 300 passengers or 250 passengers. I think 90 of them were school students.And as we approached Karachi and we were -- we came down to about 8,000 feet, thepilot called me to the cockpit, through my military (inaudible) it's very important.And, when I went there, he told me that we are not being allowed to land and we'vebeen told to rise -- go up to 21,000 feet. And then they said that you cannot landin Pakistan, get out of Pakistan's airspace.Now, that was quite a shock, but I -- I presumed that this must involve me,obviously, why else would the second order be passed. When we rose to 21,000 feet,initially, the pilot said that we can either go to an air field in -- on the -- inthe Gulf or in India. So that could be unimaginable for me to land in India as thearmy chief.So therefore, we -- when we rose to 21,000 feet I was told that we don't have fuelto go out of Pakistan now. So I said, tell the people -- I was not in contact withanyone ground, absolutely, so this negotiation between the pilot and the air trafficcontroller started to allow us to land there.He was taking about five, six minutes because he was, I think, passengers passingmessages directly to the prime minister of Pakistan and then getting messages backwhat to say. So this was taking a lot of time and I told him to land in Karachiirrespective of the permission. He said there are fire tenders on the runway so,therefore, we cannot land and all the lights have been switched off.So -- so I went back. We were halfway and the pilot said we have just enough fuel,you take a decision immediately whether you want to go to Nawabshah or back toKarachi. I said back to Karachi. And when we landed we had only about eightminutes of fuel, and when I landed, well, I was in charge of Pakistan.(LAUGHTER)BRADLEY: Many of us have had bad flights and not had it work out this well.(LAUGHTER)So, let's roll forward a little bit. It's 1999, we've moved forward to 2004.There's a poll taken, global poll. President Musharraf is the most popularpresident in the world. We thought relations between the United States and Pakistanwere strong.You were at least publicly supportive of President Bush, supportive of the UnitedStates and the war on terror. We were spending $2 billion in security.Now you roll forward again to today, a poll in Pakistan shows that the United Statesis viewed as the number one external threat to the country.If you talk to U.S. policymakers there's a very acute concern about the way Pakistanis going and whether it is a good ally.So it seems to me the best thing that we could understand after a few minutes oftalking with you is sort of what went wrong, from the Pakistani view, what wentwrong?So, let me start, when you were president, did you already see the relationsslipping away between the United States and Pakistan?MUSHARRAF: Well, now they are, yes. But I think in my time there is no doubt in mymind we had a -- a degree of trust and confidence. And I believe relations betweenstates quite a lot to do with interpersonal relations. Interstate relations have alot to do with interpersonal relations between the leaders.And may I, very proudly, say that I had a relationship with President Bush andSecretary Colin Powell. In that (inaudible) there were any doubts ormisunderstandings we could ring up each other and talk directly. And as GeneralColin Powell used to say, let's talk general to a general, and that used to be very,very straight upright talking.So that used to resolve issues. I wonder whether that exists now. Thatunderstanding, that mutual confidence maybe is not there and, therefore, yes, thereis a total breakdown of trust and confidence and that is what is harming therelationship.BRADLEY: And what do you think that the United States doesn't understand that makesPakistan not trust us? Let's do people on the street first. What do we notunderstand about why they're upset?MUSHARRAF: Because of history, but I wouldn't like to go into too much detail withthe 20 minutes that we have.Firstly, of course, it has a history in the past. We were strategic partners withthe United States all along since our independence. But, then -- and between '79and '89 we were with the United States to fight against the Soviet Union inAfghanistan.But then in 1989, suddenly the United States decides to quit the area with norehabilitation, no resettlement of the 25,000 Mujahedeen we brought. And, when thathappened, and there was a strategic policy shift of United States, sanctions onPakistan and a pro-India tilt.Now, this was seen extremely negatively by the people of Pakistan in that we havebeen used and then betrayed. This is the feeling of the people of Pakistan.BRADLEY: And is there a feeling like that today?MUSHARRAF: Yes.BRADLEY: What is that based on?MUSHARRAF: The feeling now is that this happened and for 12 years we were totallyabandoned, we were all alone fending for ourselves with whatever was happening inAfghanistan where the -- where the Mujahedeen coalesced into Al Qaida, where theTaliban came up in 1996 and Pakistan was all alone, fending for itself.Then comes 9/11 and United States appears on the scene again. We are again in thelead role. Now the people were asking is, "How are you sure that we are not to bebetrayed again, same thing will not happen, that we'll be used again and betrayedagain?"So these are -- this has a historical past which has led to -- to mistrust andantipathy against the United States at the people's level. Till 1979 -- till 1989everything was happening through Pakistan, so one has to judge, what happened beyond1989. And I have told you what happened beyond 1989.And now that we are planning to leave in 2014, that has its -- that has its impacton the people again. Now -- now, Pakistan has to think.Now, I'm not in governance, I'm not speaking on behalf of the government, but mypersonal view is that certainly there must be some analysis going on what willhappen in Afghanistan if United States leaves an unstable Afghanistan. Are wereturning to the situation in 1989 when Afghanistan was ravaged and every ethnicgroup was fighting each other?Or are we returning to 1996 when it was two groups, Taliban versus NorthernAlliance? Northern Alliance of minority, Uzbek, Tajik, Hazaras.One of the two situations will certainly be there if you leave an unstableAfghanistan and its impact with directly, first of all, be on Pakistan, secondly tobe on India, and then, of course, the world.So we have to be very conscious what are the implications of quitting in a situationwhich is unstable in Afghanistan? So we have to analyze all this and the impact onPakistan.BRADLEY: Frame for us -- I think it's hard for Americans to understand the framethrough which so many Pakistanis view this relationship.I mean -- let me do that over. The significance of India in the framing ofPakistani thought. What is the concern that Pakistan has and is it its largestconcern and do you think we don't understand that?MUSHARRAF: Yes. You are -- I wouldn't imagine that you don't understand, but I cansay that you maybe show a lack of concern.There is an issue with India certainly. We've fought wars, there's a Kashmirdispute, the (inaudible) dispute, et cetera, which is terrible and which I stronglybelieve has to be resolved. I am a strong believer that we have to resolve ourdisputes and have peace.I have been called in India at that time a man of war because I have, yes, I havefought two wars and I am a military man and a soldier. But I have always beensaying that I am a man of war, but I am a man for peace because I understand theravages of war, which maybe very few people understand, because my son is namedafter my best friend, who got killed in action.So, therefore, I understand ravages, how much you suffer in war. So, therefore, Iam a man for peace.Having said that...BRADLEY: What do you think India's...MUSHARRAF: Yes?BRADLEY: What do you think India's ambition is?MUSHARRAF: Yes, now, having said that, there is, unfortunately, always over thepast decades, since 1950, since our independence, a tussle between the twointelligence organization and the two countries, which means RAW on one side, ISI onthe other side, and this has been happening all over these decades.Now, this must go if we must resolve dispute. Now, in the late history, the pastthree or four years, this manifestation is in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan there issome kind of a proxy conflict going on between Pakistan and India. India is tryingto create an anti-Pakistan Afghanistan.BRADLEY: Why? What's it's ambition?MUSHARRAF: It's ambition must be to weaken Pakistan, to -- to have a weak Pakistanso that it can be dominated, so that it doesn't have any confrontationist attitude,which doesn't go well its -- with India's vision of dominating the region and maybebeing a -- one of the -- if not a -- if not a world power, at least a regionalpower.BRADLEY: It's not a military concern, it's a preeminence, trade...MUSHARRAF: Yes, it can -- I mean, dominance in todays' world, I think, dominating acountry or moving against a country doesn't mean that they want to take overPakistan. I don't think that can happen. After all, they helped Bangladesh getindependence. They haven't taken over Bangladesh. But it implies dominating theirforeign policy, dominating their economic policies, their trade, their commerce.So, that is way how you -- how you suppress, how you -- how you control or dominateanother country.BRADLEY: And where does this problem rank in your concerns? Is this the largestconcern you have?MUSHARRAF: Largest concern?BRADLEY: In foreign policy concerns.MUSHARRAF: Well, it's not such a great concern, if at all we don't have thisproblem to Afghanistan. We know that Afghanistan's intelligence, Afghanistan'sdiplomats, Afghanistan's soldiers, all the army, security people, they all go toIndia for training.Pakistan and I had offered them training facilities free of cost in Pakistan, to allof them. Not one man has come to Pakistan for training. They go to India. So,therefore, we receive intelligence, diplomats, soldiers indoctrinated againstPakistan's interests.So, this is what we must understand must stop. India must stop it and the UnitedStates must understand Pakistan's concern what is happening in Afghanistan.So, therefore, these are (inaudible). I would say that United States needs tounderstand Pakistan's sensitivities. I see that there is a lack of concern forPakistan's sensitivities.BRADLEY: Let me -- let me switch it the other way, tell you two issues we don'tunderstand, both of which I know you can speak to easily.The first one is where bin Laden was found. If he was there for five years, and wedon't know that he was there for five years, he would have been there during yourpresidency.I've heard you speak on this. Explain why you don't believe the ISI or the armyknew his location.MUSHARRAF: Yes, I think this is a critical issue and it's terrible. Let me, firstof all, admit it's a -- it's a terrible thing that happened. It has to be clarifiedby Pakistan because people, I know, do not believe.That there was an issue of complicity versus negligence. That is the issue. WasPakistan complicit or was it negligence? I, personally, through all my analysis sayit was not complicity, it was negligence.Now, why do I say that? If I was, briefly, to give some rationale or reasoning,first of all, if he was there for five years, that means two years of his tenure wasin my time.So, whether anyone in this hall believes it or not, I did not know. So, therefore,I am 500 percent sure that I didn't know. So, therefore, there is no complicity.So, there was no complicity in those two years.Now, let's come to those -- these three years. I don't think there was complicitybecause, first of all, nobody in that area knew that it is Osama bin Laden inside.All the Pakistani television channels, which are very, very independent today inPakistan, over 50, 60 of them, have interviewed people around. None of them ever --not one of them said that we knew Osama bin Laden is inside.When he is not using any communication, you are banking on human intelligence, andhuman intelligence is what people are telling you around. So that was not the case.Secondly, people -- a lot of people here think that this house was -- had such highwalls, such a huge house. I'm very sorry to say that I've seen this on television,I haven't seen the house there physically, but, you don't have walls around yourhouses. In Pakistan every house has a wall. And I don't see in television, withfull honesty, that this is anything unusual in the height of those walls.And, I don't see in that house to be anything unusual. It's a slightly better,slightly bigger house than an average house. So I don't see anything unusual inthis.And then, thirdly, if at all he was there, there would have been some securityaround. Would such an important personality be left alone unguarded by anyone, freeto go and come, come and go?Why wouldn't he be used as a bargaining leverage, bargaining chip? Why wouldn't Ihave used it as a bargaining chip in my time if I knew this man is with us?So, therefore, I think it's the pure case -- another point. People are -- misread-- people misread that this was a garrison town. Abbottabad is a town of about500,000 roughly. It's -- it's a tourist resort. It's a hill resort. People go andstay there in hotels.It's absolutely open. Anyone going to the mountains in northern areas goes throughAbbottabad. All civilians and military is mixed. The garrisons, the trainingcenters are open for people to go and come, use their messes, it's open.So, therefore, it's not a garrison, a walled place or a fenced place that we aretalking of.So, therefore, it was not complicity. It is a terrible case of negligence, whichmust be explained by Pakistan. But it's the onus of explanation to the world, tothe United States, lies with Pakistan. Why was there such serious negligence?But we must not believe that it was complicity because that would be very serious.That means maybe we are not together in the war against terror.BRADLEY: So, because we're out of time, let me explain that President Musharraf isunder an arrest warrant in Pakistan, but intends to go back to Pakistan in March of2012 and intends to win the presidential election in 2013. I will be returning to myoffice where I'll be very, very busy with important things, and when we see you nextyou'll have lived another adventure. Thank you so much for coming.MUSHARRAF: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you verymuch.(APPLAUSE)END