ISI maintains link with militant commanders, says Musharraf


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Feb 23, 2009
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LONDON: Former Pakistan President General Parvez Musharraf has conceded that his country's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) maintains link with militant commanders like Sirajuddin Haqqani, suspected of having masterminded the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul. ( Watch )

Musharraf said that ISI had "used Haqqani's influence" to get Pakistan's Ambassador to Afghanistan, who was abducted by Tehrik-e-Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, released.

Haqqani, "is the man who has influence over Baitullah Mehsud, a dangerous terrorist, the fiercest commander in South Waziristan and the murderer of Benzir Bhutto, as we know today," Musharraf told Der Spiegel in an interview.

"Mehsud kidnapped our Ambassador in Kabul and our intelligence used Haqqani's influence to get him released. Now that does not mean that Haqqani is supported by us. The intelligence service is using certain enemies against other enemies. And it is better to tackle them one by one than making them all enemies," he said.

On US media reports that ISI had systematically supported Taliban, the former Pakistan President said, "Intelligence always has access to other network -- that is what Americans did with KGB, that is what ISI also does."

Sirajuddin Haqqani is the son of renowned Mujaheedin commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, who is now one of the foremost commanders of Afghan Taliban. Haqqani brothers have been accused of masterminding the attack on Indian embassy in Kabul on July seven, 2008.

Musharraf in the course of his interview accused the Indian intelligence agency, RAW, of interfering in Swat valley and also of arming and financing Baluch rebels.

The former Pakistan President also said that there were "many Indian extremists who have extremists in Pakistan".

So he claimed that if world was serious about combating terrorism then "don't leave India out", since there is "an Indian element" behind the current situation in his country.

Claiming that US President Barack Obama does not understand the reality in Pakistan, Musharraf said that India should not be left out of the mandate of Richard Holbrooke, the US Special Envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"I am totally against the term Af Pak," he said. Musharraf said he did not support the Af-Pak policy for two reasons: First, the strategy puts Pakistan on the same level as Afghanistan.

"We are not. Afghanistan has no government and the country is completely destabilised. Pakistan is not."

"Second, and this is much more important, is that there is an Indian element in the whole game. We have the Kashmir struggle, without which extremist elements like Lashkar-e-Taiba would not exist," the wily commando-turned- politician said.

The former President saw a conspiracy going on to weaken Army and ISI in Pakistan, saying that the talk of Balkanization of his country was wrong as long as Army and the Intelligence were "intact and strong".

He refused to name who were behind this conspiracy, merely pointing to India saying it had 16 insurgencies going on and nobody was making a big thing out of it. "But the West always focuses on Pakistan as a problem."

Asked why he had not acted to eliminate the Taliban leadership when they came to Pakistan at the end of 2001 -- above all the so called Quetta Shura, the Taliban's highest decision making council, in the Pakistani city of Quetta -- Musharraf claimed that Quetta Shura never existed.

"Do you really think there is an assembly in a kind of a House where they come and discuss things is something like a regular consultation. Mullah Omar never was in Pakistan and he would be mad if he appears there. He is much safer in Afghanistan," he said.

On allegations of diversion of US aid running into billions of dollars for anti-terror campaign, Musharraf said Pakistan was not obligated to give out any details and instead said US should give Islamabad $20 billion a year and don't ask what we are doing with it.

On Kashmir, Musharraf claimed that India and Pakistan were close to an agreement.

"My proposal was the demilitarization of the disputed area, self-governance and a mutual overwatch," the former president said.

On what held up the agreement, he said "the key irritant was the Line of Control which the Indians wanted to make permanent. I said we should make it irrelevant by opening transit routes. And that is where the situation stands."

Asked if he viewed himself as a future Ambassador for peace between the two countries, Musharraf said "if the Pakistan Government wants me and if the Indians also trust me, then I can be of some use."

ISI maintains link with militant commanders, says Musharraf - Pakistan - World - The Times of India

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