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Text Of Nbc Transcript on Pakistan evacuating its troops in Afghanistan

Text Of Nbc Transcript on Pakistan evacuating its troops in Afghanistan

MR. RUSSERT: Both Northern Alliance soldiers and Taliban soldiers have told The New York Times that Pakistan has airlifted Pakistani fighters aligned with the Taliban out of Afghanistan and brought them safely home. Can you confirm that?

AMB. KEITH: I cannot confirm that. The Pakistani government is denying it. We have no knowledge of that.

MR. RUSSERT: Well, we have control, supremacy of the air space. We would know whether or not Pakistani aircraft landed in Afghanistan and took troops out, wouldn't we?

AMB. KEITH: We certainly would. And that's why I think it is very unlikely that that story is true.

MR. RUSSERT: So you can speak, categorically, that the Pakistani government, the CIA, no one involved in this effort in any way, shape or form has airlifted Pakistani pro-Taliban soldiers out of Afghanistan?

AMB. KEITH: I can say, categorically, that we have no information on such a move at all.

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MR. RUSSERT: Senators, we're back to talk about Afghanistan. Senator Shelby, you're on the Senate Intelligence Committee, the vice chairman. There's a credibility issue here. The New York Times has reported that Taliban and Northern Alliance soldiers have both reported that Pakistani soldiers, aligned with the Taliban, have been airlifted out, escaped, if you will, and brought back to Pakistan. Our government seems to be denying that report. What can you tell us?

SEN. SHELBY: Well, I can't confirm it or deny it. But I can tell you it would make a lot of sense that Pakistan, an ally of the Taliban, would try to rescue some of their people and probably some of the others. I think it's a logical thing to believe. Now, what actually happened, I don't know. But I just listened to our ambassador make the denial. I would be skeptical.

MR. RUSSERT: Of his denial?

SEN. SHELBY: Right.

MR. RUSSERT: But the United States has said that people should be brought to justice. If these Pakistanis were fighting with the Taliban, harboring Osama bin Laden, why should they be allowed to escape?

SEN. SHELBY: Well, that's a good question. The question is, as you look at it, and you look at the border there, and you-how long it is, how long Pakistan's been involved - you know, they propped up and basically created the Taliban - it'd be hard to stop them.

SEN. LEAHY: I would think that the ambassador is stating inaccurately with the information that he has before him. I don't doubt that. But I agree with Dick that it would seem logical because of the close ties, especially between the Pakistani secret police and the Taliban, that there would be a few of them, you know, "We got to take care of so and so because of the great favor he did for us two years ago," something like that. And along a large border, I think that's going to happen. I think that's one of the things you have to realize in this. You know, we have some of these newfound alliances which then change day by day. You have the Taliban going to fight to the death and all of a sudden they're shifting sides. This is not the nice Marquis of Queensberry rules that we might have expected.

MR. RUSSERT: So it sounds like, in return for General Musharraf of Pakistan's support of our efforts in Afghanistan, we looked the other way as he or the CIA airlifted planes to remove Pakistani soldiers?

SEN. LEAHY: No, I'm not suggesting that at all. I'm just saying that it would not surprise me if this was done, and it even would not surprise me if some of it was done without our knowledge. We have looked the other way in a lot of things about General Musharraf.
 


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