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Pakistan Holds Press Conference

Aired September 13, 2001 - 09:21   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go back to Islamabad, Pakistan.

We had just reported to you a little while ago, via Tom Mintier, our person there, that a briefing is about to begin. The Pakastani officials in the wake of the U.S. ambassador, Wendy Chamberlain, presenting her papers.

The person we're about to hear from is Major General , he is Pakistan's Presidential Press Secretary.

There he is right there. Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

MAJOR GEN. RASHID QUREISHI, PAKISTAN'S PRES. PRESS SECY.: All right.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)?

QUREISHI: Do we need the question again?

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: How much cooperation will you give if the U.S. government asks for it?

QUREISHI: At present, I don't think there's anything specific that has been asked. The president General Pervez Musharraf did make a statement last evening when he came back from Karachi to the capital. And he went into a high-level meeting yesterday, last night. And he did make a statement.

If any of you haven't got that statement, we can give that to you. What happened today was that the American ambassador to Pakistan presented her credentials to the president and gave all (ph) an exchange of views there also.

And I think after that short exchange of views, the American ambassador did talk to, I think, CNN for a short while. And I think she said what needed to be said.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) would he allow, for example, U.S. troops on his soil? Would he share intelligence? What kind of cooperation would you give him? QURESHI: You see, we cannot go into areas that have not been discussed or defined as yet, so I'll read out his last sentence that he said yesterday, and that was that, "I wish to assure President Bush and the United States government of our" -- that is Pakistan -- "unstinted cooperation in the fight against terrorism."

Now, beyond that, we cannot really answer questions, the knowledge of which we do not have, the answers of which we do not have.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

ANWAR MAAHNOOD, PAKISTAN SECY. OF INFO.: No, that's not true. No Pakistani delegation has visited Kabul yesterday as was reported.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

QURESHI: And today also, no.

QUESTION: Can you tell us about the nature of the questions that General Qureshi has had from the United States especially (OFF- MIKE) and also, can you respond to those who say that this is perhaps the most critical time in Pakistan's relationship with the United States because we have to make a choice, either (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the United States which would then mean taking a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) against the Taliban and many whom Pakistan has supported over the years or decide to stand firmly against the U.S.?

QURESHI: On the first portion of your question, I have no knowledge of what has been discussed between General (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and people in the United States. He is not in Pakistan as yet. I guess one will come to know after he returns.

The second part, there needs to be a specific concern or requirement before a decision can be made. As I said before, there has been no specific demand.

As far as your question of support is concerned, Pakistan has always said that the best way to deal with the Afghans is to engage with them. That's been Pakistan's policy, and that's how decisions have been made.

In the past, Pakistan has conveyed to the United States and to all other countries that the best way to deal with the Afghans or the Afghan government is to continue to engage with them.

Beyond that, Pakistan has always said that it does not support terrorism in any form. Pakistan is against it and has cooperated not only with the United States but with the world on combating terrorism in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

QURESHI: I frankly have no knowledge of what you've said.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) QURESHI: I don't think there was any meeting today between the Pakistan government and the Afghans.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

QURESHI: In the foreign ministry? Then I'm not aware of that

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) of what that meeting was?

QURESHI: All that had to be given was given out by the president. Beyond that, I don't think...

QUESTION: Has Pakistan intelligence service picked up any intelligence that they've been able to convey to the United States on any groups or individuals in this region that may have been involved in these terrorist attacks?

QURESHI: Frankly, I do not know. I don't think that there has been any intelligence that Pakistan intelligence sources have picked up.

QUESTION: Have you heard reports that the Taliban has detained Osama bin Laden today under house arrest, and do you give any credence at all to those reports?

MAAHNOOD: I read a report in the Times of India -- on the Times of India web site. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to what you have said, this was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) And at the bottom was a very thin line saying it has been denied by the Taliban. So I really don't know. We have no information about it.

(UNKNOWN): However, there was a report which I saw on the BBC very recently, just about, I think, an hour, an hour and a half.

QURESHI: They have lifted from (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I suppose. The same source I suppose.

QUESTION: General, when President Putin visited here, he invited Pakistani government to face the choice, as he put it between going with the West, going with civilization, going with the developing economies of the world and choosing over a bleaker path. Is there a sense in your government that the moment has arrived at which you're going to have to make that choice?

MAAHNOOD: What makes you think that we are, have been or would be on the bleaker path? We are on the path where the entire humanity is. We are on the path where the world would like to be.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: A pair of Pakistani officials: The Presidential Press Secretary General Rashid Qureishi, and Anwar Maahnood, who is the Secretary of the Ministry of Information, offering defensive replies to reporters asking questions about Pakistan's links to the Taliban in Afghanistan, and by inference, to Osama bin Laden, the person who is at the top of the suspect list in the wake of these brutal attacks on the United States.

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