LONDON: Former president of Pakistan, General (retd) Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday said that Taliban commander Mullah Omar has “never been in Pakistan.”
In an interview on BBC HardTalk, Musharraf said that Mullah Omar “has no reason to be in Pakistan”. Musharraf explained that Omar is in Kandahar and is an Afghan leader operating from the Afghan countryside.
Musharraf also vehemently denied the existence of the Quetta Shura which US intelligence believes is headed by Mullah Omar from Balochistan.
“You say it is true, I say it is all nonsense,” Musharraf said to presenter Stephen Sackur about the presence of the Quetta Shura.
“If you think that there is a Quetta Shura regularly meeting with conference tables and a flag of Quetta Shura and Taliban … this is all nonsense.”
For years, the US officials have said the one-eyed Omar is based is in the south-western city of Quetta, not far from the Afghan border, where he heads a Taliban leadership council, or shura.
Pakistan rejects assertions that Omar is in Pakistan, or even that the so-called Quetta Shura exists. But such denials came under question after al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was found in the country after years of similar protestations.
During the interview, Musharraf was also asked about the Pakistani military’s ignorance of Bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad, which the former general termed “bad luck”.
He also agreed that the relationship between Pakistan and the US has “fundamentally broken down”, saying it is at the “lowest ebb”.
Musharraf has lived in exile since stepping down in 2008 but hopes to launch a political comeback next year.