UK never told Pakistan to avoid torture: Musharraf

Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf has claimed that Britain never clearly demanded that British citizens not be tortured by his country's security services, in comments released on Monday.

As Britain prepares to open an inquiry into claims that its agents were complicit in the torture of terror suspects, Pakistan's former military ruler said London's stance may have been a "tacit approval of whatever we were doing."

In an interview with BBC TV, Musharraf strongly indicated that Pakistani intelligence agents used torture to extract information from terror suspects, although he did not say whether Britons were subjected to such methods.

He claimed he did not recall being told by the British that the ISI, the Pakistani spy agency, should not use torture on British subjects.

"Never. Never once, I don't remember it all," he said.

"Maybe they wanted us to continue to do whatever we were doing; it was a tacit approval of whatever we were doing."

Musharraf, who who was president of Pakistan from 1999 to 2008 but now lives in exile in London, said: "We are dealing with vicious people, and you have to get information.

"Now if you are extremely decent, we then don't get any information -- we need to allow leeway to the intelligence operatives, the people who interrogate."

The row in Britain centres on the case of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian-born British resident who claims he was tortured into admitting terror charges with the knowledge of British security services.

His comments were strongly denied by former British security chiefs, who have mounted a fightback against the claims that their agents colluded in torture.

Elizabeth Manningham-Buller, former director of British domestic intelligence service MI5, denied Musharraf's claims. "There was no tacit approval of torture," she said.

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