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Yes, we trained militants against India: Musharraf

Last updated on: October 5, 2010 17:09 IST

Yes, we trained militants against India: Musharraf

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Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf has admitted that Pakistan had trained underground militant groups to fight in Kashmir, the first such admission by a top leader of the country.

Musharraf's remarks came days after he announced his return to active politics from London where he has been living in self-imposed exile.

"They (underground militant groups to fight against India in Kashmir) were indeed formed," Musharraf told German magazine Der Spiegel in an interview.

Text: PTI

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Image: Musharraf addresses a large gathering as he launches his new party in Birmingham
Photographs: Toby Melville/Reuters
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'Every country has the right to promote its interests'

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Asked why did Pakistan train militant underground groups to fight India in Kashmir, the former President said Nawaz Sharif's apathy to the Kashmir issue was one of the reasons, so was the fact that the world had turned a blind eye to the dispute.

"Yes, it is the right of any country to promote its own interests... when India is not prepared to discuss Kashmir at the United Nations and is not prepared to resolve the dispute in a peaceful manner," Musharraf claimed.

"The (Nawaz Sharif) government turned a blind eye because they wanted India to discuss Kashmir," he said. Musharraf indicated he had no regrets for the Kargil intrusion, that led to an armed conflict with India in 1999, and argued that each country had a right to promote its national interest.

 


Image: Indian army soldiers stand behind seized under barrel grenade launchers after a gunbattle with militants from Pakistan, in Srinagar
Photographs: Danish Ismail/Reuters
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'The West has ignored the Kashmir dispute'

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Musharraf slammed the international community, particularly the West, for persistently ignoring the Kashmir issue, and for singling out Pakistan for all blames.

"The West was ignoring the resolution of the Kashmir issue, which is the core issue of Pakistan. We expected the West -- especially the United States and important countries like Germany -- to resolve the Kashmir issue," he said.

"Has Germany done that?" the former Pakistan military ruler asked.


Image: Indian army soldiers stand behind seized ammunition from a militant hideout in a camp near Srinagar
Photographs: Danish Ismail/Reuters
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'Why is India killing innocents in Kashmir?'

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Musharraf launched his political party the All Pakistan Muslim League in London and announced his intention to contest the 2013 election.

"The West blames Pakistan for everything. Nobody asks the Indian prime minister, why did you arm your country with a nuclear weapon? Why are you killing innocent civilians in Kashmir? Nobody was bothered that Pakistan got split in 1971 because of India's military backing for Bangladesh. The United States and Germany gave statements, but they didn't mean anything," he said.

Musharraf, who overthrew Sharif's government in a bloodless coup in 1999, had also as army chief presided over the Kargil misadventure that had threatened to scale up into a full-fledged war between India and Pakistan.

 

 


Image: Indian policemen look out from the window of the hotel where suspected militants had holed up in Srinagar
Photographs: Danish Ismail/Reuters
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'Pakistan is always defined as a rogue state'

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Musharraf charged the international community of courting India for strategic deals, while treating Pakistan as a rogue state.

"Everybody is interested in strategic deals with India, but Pakistan is always seen as the rogue," Musharraf said.

The former Pakistan ruler also said the worst blunder of the US would be to quit in Afghanistan without winning. "Then militancy will prevail not only in Pakistan, India and Kashmir, but perhaps also in Europe, the United Kingdom and in the United States. That's my belief," he said.

 


Image: A CRPF officer salutes in front of coffins containing the bodies of slain colleagues
Photographs: Fayaz Kabli/Reuters
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'AQ Khan is a characterless man'

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Musharraf dubbed disgraced nuclear scientist A Q Khan as "characterless" and rejected his claims that Pakistani army had monitored and organised clandestine atomic deals with countries like Iran and North Korea.

"Mr (A Q) Khan is a characterless man," Musharraf said, when asked about the Pakistani nuclear scientist whom he had put under house arrest on charges of proliferation of nuclear technologies to 'rogue' countries like North Korea and Iran.

On Khan's claims that the Pakistani army monitored and organised such nuclear deals, he said: "That is wrong, absolutely wrong."

"I would be a traitor if I had ever given our nuclear weapons to the United States. This capability is our pride and it will never be compromised," he said.

Khan, considered a pioneer of the Pakistani nuclear programme, had also claimed that he was forced to confess his role in nuclear proliferation by the then military regime.



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'Times of military coups in Pakistan are over'

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Musharraf, who is living in London on self-imposed exile, said the days of the army rule in Pakistan are over.

"Whenever the country is in turmoil, everybody looks to the army. But I would suggest that the times of military coups in Pakistan are over. The latest political developments have shown that the Supreme Court has set a bar on itself not to validate a military takeover," he said.

"We poisoned Pakistani civil society for 10 years when we fought the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. It was jihad and we brought in militants from all over the world, with the West and Pakistan together in the lead role. After the withdrawal of the Soviet troops, the West left Pakistan with 25,000 'mujahideen' and Al Qaeda fighters, without any plan for rehabilitation or resettlement," he said.



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'Pakistan does not have a magic wand'

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Blaming the West for the present 'fundamentalism' in the country, he argued: "Now you expect Pakistan to pull out a magic wand and make all of this suddenly disappear? That is not doable -- this will take time."

Musharraf said the West has made three blunders so far. "After the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, they abandoned the region in 1989," he said.

"Then, after 9/11, they fought the Taliban instead of strengthening the Pashtuns who could have taken on the radical Taliban. Now you try to negotiate with so-called 'moderate Taliban' but there is no such thing as a moderate Taliban. There are Taliban and Pashtuns.



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Musharraf's advice to West: 'Don't quit without winning'

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"But as I have always said: All Taliban are Pashtun, but not all Pashtun people are Taliban. Again, you should reinforce the ancient Pashtun clans who are not ideologically aligned with the Taliban to govern Afghanistan and to fight the Taliban. That's my strong advice," he said.

The fourth and "worst blunder" would be to quit without winning, Musharraf said. "Then militancy will prevail not only in Pakistan, India and Kashmir, but perhaps also in Europe, the United Kingdom and in the United States. That's my belief," he said.



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