Musharraf supports army operation in WaziristanOctober 19, 2009
By Masood Haider
Tuesday, 20 Oct, 2009
NEW YORK: Former president Pervez Musharraf has applauded the military offensive to flush out the Taliban and other militants from South Waziristan, saying that it was ‘very much needed’.
‘I support what the government and army are doing to eliminate the threat of terrorism and extremism,’ he told a select crowd at a dinner hosted by members of the Pakistani-American community at a hotel in the borough of Staten Island on Sunday night.
Most Pakistani media was barred from the event, except two TV channels which, according to sources, had been approved by Mr Musharraf.
The organisers allowed only pre-approved questions to be asked.
Answering a question about his return to Pakistan, he said he would wait and see how the situation evolved in the wake of army operation.
Former chief of the army staff Gen (retd) Musharraf said that growing insurgency, especially the recent spike in suicide bombings, had put Pakistan in a precarious situation.
Moreover, the country’s economy is not picking up and remains in a bad shape.
He said that the only way forward for Pakistan was to have a ‘real functional democracy, with good governance’.
About the situation in Afghanistan, he said Washington had made three mistakes from 1979 to 2009. He repeated a well-known fact that in 1989 the US abandoned some 35,000 battle-hardened Mujahideen after the Soviets had been driven out. These people formed the nucleus of what would become Al Qaeda. Pakistan, which helped the US in creating those fighters, was left high and dry at that stage.
The United States, he added, was also wrong when it refused to recognise the Taliban by opening its mission in Kabul. In doing so, the US threw away a chance to influence them, and paved the way for Al Qaeda to become influential.
The United States also made a mistake by allowing the Northern Alliance, made up of ethnic minorities, to gain influence in the post-Taliban government, instead of making more concessions to the Pashtun majority, he said. The way to resolve the Afghan crisis was to access the Pashtuns and hold dialogue with them.