LONDON: Former president Pervez Musharraf said that Pakistan has “definite reasons” for not acting against the Haqqani Network, as such action may not be in Pakistan’s current interest.
The former President did not rule out future action against the Haqqanis, but said that he was not privy to any information in this regard.
Musharraf was speaking at a question and answer session organised at the University of London by the School of Oriental and African Studies and hosted by Express News host of Frontline, Kamran Shahid.
Musharraf faced an intense question and answer session in London, being grilled by an audience comprising both south asian and international students.
Answering a question on drone strikes and the attached collateral damage, the former President of Pakistan said it was a “catch 22” situation, saying on the one hand, Pakistan wants to defeat al-Qaeda and Taliban since that they are terrorists trying to destabilize the region but at the same time they had to avoid talibanisation of Pakistan. He added that militants are being killed in drone strikes, but at the cost of collateral damage, which is why he never drone strikes during his term. He admitted that handling this situation was a problem area.
Answering a question from an Afghan student on Pakistan’s dual policy of initially backing the Taliban when they took over in Afghanistan and now talking about avoiding talibanisation of Pakistan, Musharraf said that he had no part to play in recognizing the Afghan Taliban government in 1996 but supported the government’s decision. He added that at the time, the Afghan Taliban were fighting against an Indian and Russian backed Northern Alliance. He said that the world had abandoned Afghanistan between 1989 and 2001, and that Pakistan alone was not to blame for what happened in Afghanistan during that time.
Answering a question on not taking former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif into confidence on Kargil, the retired general said he had briefed Sharif on the issue. He cited pictures of Sharif at the briefing which “had been circulating over the internet for some time”.
“Was Nawaz Sharif at the briefing for sightseeing?” queried Musharraf.