Musharraf warns of proxy war with India in Afghanistan

By AFP
Published: November 18, 2014
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A file photo of former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf. PHOTO: AFP

A file photo of former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf. PHOTO: AFP

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.

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Reader Comments (34)

  • AVMPolpot
    Nov 18, 2014 - 11:27AM

    ” Musharraf warns of proxy war with India in Afghanistan”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Hence :ET: “Fighting militancy: Why should we antagonise all groups, asks Aziz”

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  • Pity
    Nov 18, 2014 - 11:30AM

    He’s the man with the courage to give a tit for tat response to external aggression on Pakistan.

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  • Duman
    Nov 18, 2014 - 11:39AM

    Why do we even listen to what this clown has to say?
    Agree that proxy war should be avoided at all costs though.

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  • ModiFied
    Nov 18, 2014 - 11:46AM

    Looks like former army chief wants Pakistan to commit suicide now.

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  • AVMPolpot
    Nov 18, 2014 - 12:00PM

    @Pity: ” He’s the man with the courage to give a tit for tat response to external aggression on Pakistan.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Like he did at Kargill.

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  • AVMPolpot
    Nov 18, 2014 - 12:02PM

    Musharraf needs to dramatize Thus: The next nuclear war will be at the Durand Line…
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    That way he might get some attention.

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  • chandran
    Nov 18, 2014 - 12:07PM

    No problem sir, We are welcoming it
    You can come and live in your Delhi house also
    you are brave man and we proud of our Delhi boy
    what else we can say in reaction to your statement

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  • jay1980
    Nov 18, 2014 - 12:10PM

    And as usual Pakistan will suffer the consequences of this proxy war ! Further bankruptcy, Afghan contempt, a whole new generation of Anti everybody youth,,, so on and so forth… Yes Pakistan you are the right path …. Please continue,,,,,,,,,

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  • wb
    Nov 18, 2014 - 12:18PM

    @Pity:

    He is also the man who ruined Pakistan by allowing US.

    So, which is important to you? Giving a tit for tat lies to the external aggression? Or destroying a country internally?

    Perhaps both. That’s why Pakistanis admire him.

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  • Katawazai
    Nov 18, 2014 - 12:19PM

    Mr General, your dream to once again slave Afghans would never and ever come true, therefore, pls try to take your medicine regularly and exercise in your garrison home in Karachi.

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  • Hedgefunder
    Nov 18, 2014 - 1:37PM

    If peace between India & Pakistan is key to regional stability, then why did you decide to have an adventure camping trip in Kargil ?
    There were lot of casualties and loss of lives on both sides, sadly for many Pakistani families, they did not get closure as they never even received their dead, due to your denials as to state’s involvement in that conflict !

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  • Pakistani
    Nov 18, 2014 - 1:39PM

    Gen Musharraf knows exactly how to handle the Indians. No wonder Indians get worked up whenever he says something about them mainly because he says things which they do not want to hear.

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  • Neel
    Nov 18, 2014 - 1:40PM

    We the youth of Pakistan have had enough of war politics in the name of nationalism. Every time we fight for democracy the military diverts us by starting cross border firing. We are not going to be the victims of fake nationalism. If you are a true nationalist then start revolutionizing our economy and creating jobs, raising the standard of living of Pakistani families and quality of life. We have all the resources and we can do it. We just need a visionary leader to instill the will in the nation and develop a developmental sentiment. Just like modi has done on the other side. Enough is enough. Start spending on our eduction instead of defence. Penned words create a greater impact then a bullet shot. We are not a failed nation and we shall prove it in time.

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  • Muneer
    Nov 18, 2014 - 1:57PM

    Every actoin has a reaction in equal and opposite direction. Musharraf is just drawing attention to the reaction of the Indian action.

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  • Feroz
    Nov 18, 2014 - 2:07PM

    The former President and COAS seems to be still stuck firmly with his strategic assets and love of proxies. Even after over 50,000 citizens have paid with their lives for Musharaf misadventures and many soldiers too in Kargill, wisdom has eluded him. With such leaders who needs enemies ?

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  • Wajahat
    Nov 18, 2014 - 2:23PM

    @AVMPolpot:

    What do you know about Kargil?!!!!

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  • Masood Chitrali
    Nov 18, 2014 - 2:33PM

    Obviously what Musharraf Sahb has said is an ultimate truth….So Pakistan should be careful about it but should not worry at all… because we can do any thing more strongly than the indians. be it a conspiracy or war….

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  • ishrat salim
    Nov 18, 2014 - 3:38PM

    @wb:

    did not know that you guys hv so short memory….it was Gen Zia, who is even more responsible for the mess we are in TODAY ! why do we never mention Zia joker whose closeness with the Americans gave us the klashinkov culture, drugs, Afghan refugees ( 2 million still there in our country ), Taliban jihadists to fight the Soviets, numerous ( in thousands ) un-registered madrasas responsible in churning out terrorists, thousands of religious parties who are patronizing these un-registered madrasas…it was during the Gen M period that a coalition of religio-political party comprising of JUI / JI etc; was in power for 4 years in KP…it was they who kept their eyes shut & allowed the forming & gathering of these terrorist groups to flourish in KP & FATA…so, please put your facts in order before commenting…Gen Zia nor Gen M nor any of the present leaders are angels….at least the situation was not that bad during Gen M, compare to what it is TODAY…go & ask any one on the street…are they happy now for the past 6 years of democratic rule ? you will get your answer. For you, it is very easy to criticize, because you can afford all the basic amenities of life, but ask people on the street…that should be your barometer to measure progress.

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  • Waseem Sarwar
    Nov 18, 2014 - 3:38PM

    @Katawazai:
    “your dream to once again slave Afghans would never and ever come true”. I also had a dream where our country sent all the Afghans back to holy land of Afghanistan.

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  • SHR
    Nov 18, 2014 - 3:43PM

    The only True Confident Proud Pakistani Leader, under whose leadership, we really flourished. He is the man who gave confidence to the whole nation and specially to the Pakistanis living abroad. He(the so called dictator by the media) is the one who allowed all these TV Channels which no democratic governemnt allowed earlier. He raised the economy of the country along with the standard of living of a common man. See the boom in the Telecom Sector, ask their employees, whatever they are right now is just because of Mr. Parvez Musharraf.

    lol..indians are always against this man as they know that He is one patriotic Pakistani leader, who knows how to shut them up and deal with them the way they should be dealt. He knows well how to treat all. May we media brainwashed people understand this.

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  • Shahid
    Nov 18, 2014 - 7:45PM

    @Duman:
    So you mean Pakistan was goverened by a clown for all these years and all the nation was clapping. Bravo for your most idiotic statement. I am sure you yourself don’t know what you are saying.

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  • Yasir
    Nov 18, 2014 - 8:18PM

    @Neel:

    “We the youth of Pakistan have had enough of war politics in the name of nationalism. “

    Who died and made you the spokesperson of the youth?

    “Just like modi has done on the other side. Enough is enough.”

    Have you heard the war mongering by that idiot? Do you know the increase in defense budget of India?

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  • smbfhs
    Nov 18, 2014 - 8:42PM

    I believe this news was recorded earlier or Mush has not correctly evaluated the changes Afghanistan is seeing under Pres. Ashraf Ghani. There is no such issues on the table now, instead conditions that are needed for Proxy War between the old enemies are dissipating fast. I see a good relationship not just between Pak & Afgh but between Pak & India too. Basis: A huge wheel of economies and wars have turned a full circle for the whole neighborhood. The hopes, aspirations and mindset of effected people is different too, very fast though. World is looking at a different target than 20 years ago.

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  • truthplease
    Nov 19, 2014 - 7:52AM

    @SHR
    “lol..indians are always against this man as they know that He is one patriotic Pakistani leader, who knows how to shut them up and deal with them the way they should be dealt. He knows well how to treat all”

    This explains the far cry of you Pakistani’s about Narendra Modi. Ironic, isn’t it?

    @Yasir

    If a man running a government is an idiot, what should we call your leaders who don’t even has any idea about running a government, or the other half who is protesting for months and did nothing. I don’t know any word that describes them. Suggest something please.

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  • Last Word
    Nov 19, 2014 - 9:27AM

    An idle mind is devils workshop. Musharraf keeps issuing controversial statements for revival of his political career after getting acquitted from all cases against him. India has not indulged in any proxy war so far and never will as a state policy. Pakistan has not gained from proxy wars which has only lead to its isolation and recent US report is most damning which has been issued as a veiled warning to Pakistan. Gen Sharif during his discussions in US would be told in no uncertain terms about Pakistan’s future role in Afghanistan as well as the consequences failing to follow the same.

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  • Far fetched
    Nov 19, 2014 - 6:53PM

    @ishrat salim:
    You seem to be a paid anti-Zia and pro-Musharraf propagandist.

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  • Rawalpindi Kid
    Nov 19, 2014 - 10:49PM

    @Last Word:
    You sound like an Indian with his head in the sand. To state India has not engaged in any proxy war so far is either the most ignorant one, or the most disingenouous that I have heard in a long time. We have people coming across from Afghanistan who have weapons and training supplied by India in Afghanistan and the proof has been provided to Afghanistan. Making a blanket statement to deny it is nothing but hot air. USA has stated multiple times the key to peace in Afghanistan is to work with Pakistan, so has every Afghanistan president. You are just dreaming and conconting stories that make no sense. In the end you only manage to lose credibility with these kind of statements.

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  • Rawalpindi Kid
    Nov 20, 2014 - 12:04AM

    @Last Word:
    To further expose yours and Indian lies about Indian involvement in proxy war through Afgahnistan, please check out a video of the current US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s speech in which he categorically stated “India for some time has always used Afghanistan as a second front, and India has over the years financed problems for Pakistan on that side of the border”. Chuck Hagel made that statement when he was a US Senator and a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. Do you think Chuck Hagel is also making up stories? But this is Indian policy to fill the media with lies, lies, and more lies.

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  • Asok
    Nov 20, 2014 - 7:37AM

    Read between the lines:

    “Unless you let Afghanistan be a fully owned subsidiary of the Pak military we will keep using Pashtun groups like the Haqqani group to attack the legitimate government in Kabul”.

    Pashtuns are a majority in Afghanistan. Ghani is a pashtun himself. If they are solidly behind Pakistan, then there is no need for Pakistan to create trouble in Afghanistan. But of course Musharraf knows that Afghans, including Pashtuns, resent Pakistan for its past interventions that worsened the security situation there.

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  • Vish
    Nov 20, 2014 - 10:53AM

    @Neel: Neel hope majority of pakistanis replicate your thoughts by the end of next decades your country would be one among the respectful in the world. a Wish from an Indian…..

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  • Vish
    Nov 20, 2014 - 10:55AM

    @Wajahat:
    certainly not mush version., he would be knowing the version what world knows on Kargil….

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  • Vish
    Nov 20, 2014 - 11:00AM

    @Yasir:

    Yasir, what Neel said is right, 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.

    And finally all Indians are least bothered about war against Pakistan, 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……

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  • AVMPolpot
    Nov 20, 2014 - 1:10PM

    @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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  • Yasir
    Nov 21, 2014 - 2:55AM

    @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!

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