Musharraf warns of proxy war with India in Afghanistan

Former military ruler says calming tension between India and Pakistan is key to peace in Afghanistan

Afp November 18, 2014

KARACHI: The departure of Nato combat forces from Afghanistan could push India and Pakistan towards a proxy war in the troubled state, former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf warned in an interview with AFP.

As Pakistan's ruler, Musharraf was a key US ally in its "war on terror", but he now lives under tight security in his Karachi home, facing Taliban death threats and a litany of criminal cases dating back to his near decade-long rule that ended in 2008.

The 71-year-old who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999, praised new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who made his first official trip to Pakistan last week in a bid to reset fractious ties with Islamabad.

Pakistan's support is seen as crucial to Afghan peace as US-led forces pull out by the end of this year after 13 years battling the Taliban.

But the former strongman said calming tension between India and Pakistan, running high at the moment after some of the worst cross-border firing in years is key to peace in Afghanistan.

"The danger for Pakistan is... the Indian influence in Afghanistan," he told AFP at his house in Karachi.

"That is another danger for the whole region and for Pakistan because Indian involvement there has an anti-Pakistan connotation. They (India) want to create an anti-Pakistan Afghanistan."

India and Pakistan both have long accused each other of using proxy forces to try to gain influence in Afghanistan.

While India has tried to gain traction with the Tajik ethnic group, which dominates in northern Afghanistan, Pakistan has sought to use its leverage with the Pashtuns of the country's south and east who make up the majority of the Taliban.

"If Indians are using some elements of the ethnic entities in Afghanistan, then Pakistan will use its own support for ethnic elements, and our ethnic elements are certainly Pashtuns," Musharraf said.

"So we are initiating a proxy war in Afghanistan. This must be avoided."

Musharraf blamed India for supporting separatist rebels in Balochistan via training camps in southern Afghanistan, a common accusation in military circles.

Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai routinely accused Pakistan of secretly backing the Taliban as a hedge against Indian influence in his country.

Pakistan denies the accusation, though it was one of only three countries to officially recognise the Afghan Taliban regime, in power from 1996 until 2001 when the US-led invasion resulted in its overthrow.

Musharraf criticised former Afghan president Hamid Karzai for sending officials for training in India and not Pakistan, saying "these small things add up to strategic problems".

Ghani and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pledged at the weekend to move on from the sniping and bitterness of the Karzai years, with the Afghan leader saying three days of talks had undone 13 years of differences.

But Musharraf warned that regional rivalries could flourish again once Nato's 34,000-strong combat contingent leaves by the end of next month.

"When there is an absence of all these forces, then yes there would be a vacuum... in that case there can be more serious repercussion," he said.

Musharraf said he stands by his decision to ally Pakistan with Washington in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

But he said that the US-led coalition that invaded Afghanistan to oust the Taliban had "failed to convert a military victory into a political victory" when it handed power to Tajiks and thereby alienated many Pashtuns.

Musharraf's home in a well-heeled Karachi neighbourhood is decked with photos of him with world leaders, but his dreams of a triumphant homecoming last year were dashed amid allegations of treason and murder.

He came back to Pakistan in March 2013 after four years of self-imposed exile to run in the May general election, vowing to "save" the country from Taliban violence and economic ruin.

But he was barred from running in the election, and was then put under house arrest and hit with numerous criminal cases, including treason, the first former army chief to face the charge.

Despite the setbacks, he said he has no regrets about returning.

He also said recent anti-government street protests led by Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri have touched a nerve.

"The people are for change, there is no doubt in my mind, and there should be no doubt in anyone's mind that the people of Pakistan, the masses of Pakistan, widely and very strongly want change," he said.

Facebook Conversations


Yasir | 5 years ago | Reply | Recommend

@Vish: What Neel said was a voice of a minority who can even be elected if all the Pakistanis were phds and polls were 100% fair. So when a person belonging to such part of society claim to be the voice of the whole society, you wonder whether his screws are loose!

"even if you keep head count against one war mong against one war mong in India, you still find deficit of 1 Billion short to face, so grow up and adopt Neel’s thought for the improvement of your better feature and your next generation."

Numbers do not matter in this day and age, what matters is operational readiness, courage and strength to fight and win wars.

"And finally all Indians are least bothered about war against Pakistan"

Do you know the amount of war mongering Modi does to keep a popularity up?

"if it happens so it happens we force to support our nation. so choice is yours want peace or war select the option remember still you face 1 Billion head count short……"

You need to be prepared for every eventuality, you can have a very stable economy, a very well looked after population but without a powerful defense it will take less than a min for powerful to make mince meat out of you!

AVMPolpot | 5 years ago | Reply | Recommend

@Wajahat:" @AVMPolpot: What do you know about Kargil?!!!!" +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ @ Moderators: I have made multiple attempts to respond to Mr Wajahat but each time failed by you. Isnt it logical that if you allow such postings than u must also allow replies to that.

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