Pakistan’s Sharif regrets backing Taliban

July 7, 2010

Pakistan’s top opposition leader Nawaz Sharif says he regrets his decision to back the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan in the mid 1990s.

In an interview with Pakistan’s Dunya TV, Sharif described the pro-Taliban policy pursued by Islamabad during his premiership as a failure.

“Pakistan should abandon this thinking that Pakistan has to keep influence in Afghanistan,” Sharif said.

“Our policy in the past has failed. Neither will such a policy work in future. We have a centuries-old relationship, and we can maintain this relationship only when we remain neutral and support the government elected there with the desire of the Afghan people,” Sharif, who heads the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party said.

Sharif supported the Taliban in 1996 when the group gained control of neighboring Afghanistan. He was ousted in the bloodless 1999 coup led by former Pakistani military ruler General Pervez Musharraf.

The Taliban ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001 and were overthrown following the 2001 US-led invasion of the country.

Sharif’s party has been criticized in recent months for not going after militant groups in Punjab.

The ruling Pakistan People’s Party says Sharif and his allies have a soft corner for the militants.

Sharif, in return, blames the federal government for taking directives from Washington on how to deal with domestic problems of the country.

Source: Press TV

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