Taliban not our creation: Musharraf

MusharrafKARACHI-Former president Pervez Musharraf refuted on Thursday allegations that Pakistan created the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, saying, “The Taliban is not our creation. It was self-created from within the Afghanistan environment.”

The former military dictator was addressing the Youth Parliament in Karachi on Thursday.

He alleged that the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 changed the political climate worldwide and three blunders were created by the United States who also left the area.

“The US left without rehabilitating the 25,000 Afghan mujahideen who came here, which led to the formation of al Qaeda,” he claimed.

Claiming that 1990 onward, warlords emerged, freedom fights started and the Taliban were created in 1996, the former president alleged it was because of the mujahideen left behind.

“The second blunder was the West’s refusal to recognise Taliban.”

“We were the only ones who recognised the Taliban, Saudi Arabia and UAE later backed out,” he said, referring to Pakistan’s recognition of the Afghan Taliban regime, in power from 1996 until 2001 when the US-led invasion resulted in its overthrow.

“The world looked at us negatively because of this,” the military ruler said, explaining that in 2000 then US president Bill Clinton came to Pakistan to reprimand him for his recognition of the Taliban.

“I told him my thinking is different. I think our strategy ought to be we all recognize Taliban and open our missions in Afghanistan and then try to moderate them from within,” Musharraf recalled.

He added in hindsight he was correct in his stance, claiming if there were missions from around the world in Afghanistan, the Afghan government would have taken steps.

“But because none of this happened, the events led to 9/11.”

Moving on to the third blunder and post-9/11, the former president said the invasion of US-led Nato forces in Afghanistan pushed militants to mountainous areas neighbouring Afghanistan.

“A vacuum was created in Afghanistan which had to be overcome by changing military victory into a political victory,” he said, explaining an ethnically balanced government representing Pakhtuns was needed.

“But because this did not happen, the Taliban started reviving in 2003.”

Discussing the effects of the revival of Taliban, Musharraf claimed four million refugees moved to Pakistan and religious militancy in Fata, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and other cities started.

“The world’s focus became South Asia as a result,” he added.

“During this tumultuous period, frankly, not one civilian government performed socio-economically for Pakistan. Not one. Other than the military government,” the military ruler asserted.

Musharraf added that policies can be adjusted according to environment but national interests are constant.

Taking a jab at the current government, the former president said, “The economy is nose-diving and terrorism is prevalent in all provinces.”

“We must deal with terrorism in all its connotations in Pakistan,” he said, citing in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa there is Taliban and al Qaeda, separatism and sectarianism in Balochistan, ethnic and sectarianism in Sindh and sectarianism in Punjab.

Shifting his focus to India, Musharraf said, “Tension between Pakistan and India has always existed.”

“Kashmir is a bone of contention between Pakistan and India.”

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