Perspective: Musharraf supports role for Taliban in Afghanistan

Published: February 26, 2015
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General (retd) Pervez Musharraf. PHOTO: INP

General (retd) Pervez Musharraf. PHOTO: INP

Former president Pervez Musharraf has said Kabul must share power with the Taliban and block Indian influence if it wishes to see peace, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.

He said President Ashraf Ghani’s September inauguration presents a new opportunity for reconciliation between Kabul and the Taliban. “Ashraf Ghani is a balanced man,” Musharraf told the WSJ in a recent interview. “I think he’s a great hope. And Pakistan and India both must stay away, and not to have this kind of a proxy war going on there.”

The 71-year-old former dictator, who seized the reins of power in a coup in 1999, also acknowledged that India and Pakistan had been engaged in a proxy war on Afghan soil that fed the conflict, but said Islamabad’s role in nurturing the Taliban and allied militant groups operating in Afghanistan were a legitimate counterweight against India.

“There are enemies of Pakistan that have to be countered,” Musharraf said. “Certainly if there’s an enemy of mine, I will use somebody to counter him.”

“The world must realise that we may not like the face of Mullah Omar… but that is how life is, that is what Afghanistan is,” the former strongman said.

On the complex ethnic mix in Afghanistan, Musharraf said: “We have to get the Pashtuns on board.” “If there are the Taliban who are for peace and they want to join President Ashraf Ghani in sharing power and having a system which is workable in Afghanistan, by all means they should be included,” he added.

Brushing Musharraf’s comments aside, Syed Akbaruddin, spokesman for India’s ministry of external affairs, said: “We don’t need to respond to voices from the wilderness. Such voices just try to occupy news space.”

Musharraf’s remarks come as President Ghani’s administration plays up hopes that Afghan officials will be able to negotiate with the Taliban leadership in the coming weeks.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 26th, 2015.

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