Dawn News

March, 31 2015
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Musharraf against US withdrawal

Former Pakistani president General Pervez Musharraf speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations on November 2, 2011 in New York City. —AFP Photo

NEW YORK: Former president Pervez Musharraf warned on Sunday that the US withdrawal from Afghanistan would lead to Pakistan and India struggling over influence in the war-torn country.

An unstable Afghanistan reeling from US withdrawal, with bordering Pakistan and India fighting for influence, would lead to disarray in the region, Mr Musharraf said on CNN's “Fareed Zakaria GPS” in an interview.

“I think it's going to be very difficult, very difficult,” the retired army chief said. “I get a feeling that maybe we will revert to” the regional instability that preceded the 2001 US-led invasion.

He warned the US not to leave Afghanistan nor set a time-line for troop withdrawal and said Pakistan had been “bending backward” trying to help train Afghan troops and intelligence personnel, yet Afghan “diplomats, intelligence personnel, military men, security people go to India for training”, Mr Musharraf said.

He said he did not trust Afghan President Hamid Karzai “at all”.

Mr Karzai said last month that Afghanistan was a loyal neighbour to Pakistan and would assist if Pakistan were attacked by the US. Mr Musharraf said the notion is “totally preposterous” during the interview.

He said he was confident Pakistan's nuclear weapons were safe even though the US raid on Osama bin Laden in Pakistan went undetected by his country and there had been media reports that its nuclear sites had been attacked by militants and weapons transported in low-security convoys.

Pakistan's nuclear weapons are secure unless “Pakistan is taken over by some religious extremist political organisation,” and “I don't see that happening in the near future,” Mr Musharraf said.

The weapons “are very well dispersed and they are in very strong positions, and also guarded”, he said. “I don't think it's as simple as an Osama bin Laden action or a one-point action which is a soft target. This is a very hard target.”

The former president has repeatedly said he didn't know Osama bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad, where US forces killed him in May, and did not think the country's intelligence service protected the Al Qaeda leader.


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