Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’

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What should be done in Afghanistan

December 19, 2010

Written by Pervez Musharraf – former President of Pakistan

Historical background: Events in Afghanistan took a turn in 1979 with the invasion of the country by the Soviet Union. The Soviets were challenged through a jihad, launched by the Afghans supported by America and Pakistan. The jihad was strongly reinforced by mujahideen, encouraged and brought from all over the Muslim world and also by the Taliban from the madrassas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. It was spearheaded by various religious militant groups and, thus, we saw the introduction of religious militancy in the region which continued for ten long years. The year 1989 saw the defeat of the Soviet Union and its eviction from Afghanistan.

The fruits of this victory all went to the West, with the Cold War ending in the West’s victory, dismemberment of the Soviet Union, liberation of East Europe and the reunification of Germany. Unfortunately, what Afghanistan and Pakistan got after 1989 were a series of three short-sighted blunders leading to complications and perhaps, avoidable turmoil in the region. The rehabilitation and resettlement of the mujahideen brought into Afghanistan was totally ignored.

The first blunder was the abandonment of Afghanistan and Pakistan by the US in 1989. The chaos that followed for the entire decade of the 90s gave birth to al Qaeda and later the Taliban.

The second was the non-recognition of the Taliban government which ruled 90 per cent of Afghanistan after 1997. My idea of the entire world recognising the Taliban government and opening diplomatic missions in Kabul which would be managed from within, was not paid any heed to. Had it been done, maybe we could have saved the Bamiyan Buddha statues and even untangled the Osama bin Laden dispute.

The third blunder was committed after 9/11 when the Taliban, who were all Pashtuns, were defeated with the help of the Northern Alliance composed of three minority ethnic groups (Uzbeks, Hazaras and Tajiks). The Taliban and al Qaeda were dispersed and they ran into the mountains and the cities of Pakistan. Their organisational and command structure was totally dismantled. The military achieved its objective of getting into a dominant position. The logical course of action after this was to change strategy and place a legitimate government in Afghanistan, This implies a government dominated by the Pashtun majority (half of the Afghan population), because historically nobody other than Pashtuns have governed Afghanistan. Not doing this and persisting with a government dominated by a Tajik minority, still in place, was and still is a great blunder.

The Taliban resurgence started in late 2003, mainly, because of the third blunder of not weaning away the Pashtun from the Taliban. My view has always been that all Taliban are Pashtun, but all Pashtun are not Taliban; therefore, we can wean them away from the Taliban. Now, after eight years we are talking of parleys with moderate Taliban, or even Taliban, but from a position of weakness, when we have declared our intention to quit.

The present situation: The terrorist situation has transformed or visibly developed in the region and in the world, in the last few years. Let us see its contours in various countries.

Pakistan faces four menaces from terrorism. Each one requires an in-depth understanding and a different strategy to tackle: The first is al Qaeda which has a presence in the mountains of Fata, though in small numbers, and needs to be evicted. The second is the Taliban presence in Fata, especially in South and North Waziristan, and in Bajaur agency. However, they are our own people and have to be handled with acumen. We need to follow a triple strategy of force accompanied by a political and a socio-economic component. Deals must be struck with the tribal Pashtuns to wean them away from the Taliban and thus isolate the latter, who can then be dealt with militarily. Then there is the Talibanisation in the settled districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and even beyond. This has to be contained with force. The last is extremism and extremist organisations in some pockets of Pakistani society, which are primarily a fallout of Taliban activity in Afghanistan and mujahideen activity in Indian-held Kashmir.

Moderation has to be brought into society through a five-pronged strategy of stopping misuse of mosques for preaching militancy; banning militant organisations and not allowing them to resurface with different titles; ensuring that the curriculum/ syllabus in schools has no content of religious or sectarian extremism and mainstreaming students in madrassas

There is also the issue of mujahideen activity in Indian-held Kashmir against the Indian Army. This is supported by mujahideen groups in Pakistan and has tremendous public sympathy. Furthermore, extremism is on the rise in Muslim youth in India because of alienation of Muslims due to a sense of deprivation and suppression. The situation becomes more alarming due to the nexus emerging between extremists in India and the mujahideen in Kashmir on one hand, and extremists and the Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan on the other.

The menace deepens with the emergence of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghrib centered around Algeria and Mali and, in the Arabian peninsula, centred around Yemen and Somalia. The centre of gravity of all this extremism and terrorism, however, lies in Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan.

The future course: Losing at the centre of gravity means losing everywhere. Quitting from Afghanistan without getting into a dominant military position and placing a legitimate Pashtun-dominated government in Afghanistan could spell disaster for the region and also endanger the world.

So what is the winning strategy? In Afghanistan we are still diluted in space but since we cannot send additional Nato/Isaf forces we must increase the strength of the Afghan National Army. However, the correct ethnic balance must also be ensured. Then, we need to identify Pashtun tribes and tribal Maliks who have no ideological affinity with the Taliban and arm them to create lashkars to fight the Taliban and al Qaeda. With such a strategy in place, the drawdown of troops from the area should be effect-related rather than time-related. The effect that we would want to achieve is to be in a dominant force position and have in place a legitimate Pashtun-dominated government in Kabul.

Source: Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2010

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Pervez Musharraf at Asia Society Texas – Outlines Election Strategy

October 21, 2010

HOUSTON, October 19, 2010 – Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who earlier this month announced he was forming a new political party and would seek the presidency in 2013, held himself up as the only figure on the Pakistani political scene capable of delivering the country from “the darkness that it faces today.”

“All the political alternatives available have been tried and failed,” he told an audience of 140 at a luncheon address hosted by AsiaSociety Texas Center and the Greater Houston Partnership.

He specifically attacked former President Nawaz Sharif, the man whom Musharraf replaced in 1999 following a bloodless military coup and who is vying to return to power.

“Having taken us down the drain, he wants to take us again down the drain,” Musharraf said.”Therefore, like any patriotic Pakistani, I feel we must not allow that.”

The 67-year-old former president offered few specifics on policies he might follow if elected, beyond promising to revive Pakistan’s economy. He did provide a glimpse of his election strategy, saying he would target the 60 percent of Pakistanis who do not vote.

“This 60 percent comprises educated middle-class Pakistanis, young people, women, and ethnic minorities,” he said. “If you can bring them into the political fray, even 25 percent of them, you would bring about a change in the political culture. That is what I intend doing.”

Regaining power as a civilian, through election, would give him the full legitimacy he lacked the first time around, he said.

Musharraf devoted the first two-thirds of his talk not to current politics but to an uncompromising defense of his and his country’s role in battling Islamic extremism in the region. “We are the victims of religious militancy, not the perpetrators,” he said.

He revisited “three blunders” that he said have contributed to the terrorist threat emanating today from Afghanistan and western Pakistan. He pointed the finger of blame primarily at the United States and the West, first for arming and encouraging the mujahideen, many of them foreigners, to wage “jihad” in Afghanistan against the Soviet occupiers, a move that introduced religious militancy into that country. Worse, after the Soviets beat a retreat, the West abandoned the war-ravaged country.

“So the first blunder, in 1989, was abandoning the place without any rehabilitation or resettlement, [which] gave rise to al Qaeda and then the Taliban,” he said.

He defended his decision to recognize the Taliban government in Afghanistan, a move that put him at odds with the United States. In recognizing the Taliban he aimed to “change them from within.” Western failure to follow that course constituted the second blunder.

Musharraf took strong issue with critics who say Pakistan has not done enough to battle al Qaeda and the Taliban. Joining the post-Sept. 11 coalition to fight terrorism was in Pakistan’s self-interest, he said.

“I want to underline this because there are now expressions in the West and the United States that we are not doing enough or that our heart is not in the issue. Wrong, sir.  Nobody in Pakistan would like to have Talibanization of Pakistan.”

He defended his strategy of trying to “peel the Pashtuns from the Taliban” in 2002 and 2003. “It could have been easily done” had the United States embraced that approach, he said. Failure to push for a political solution when the coalition had the upper hand militarily was the third blunder.

He summarized the threats facing Pakistan today as al-Qaeda, who exist “in small numbers” in the western tribal areas; the Pakistani Taliban, who are getting bolder and spreading their brand of militancy beyond the frontier; and growing numbers of ex-mujahideen traveling to Kashmir to fight the Indian army. He also expressed concern about growing Islamic extremism among the youth in India. “The Indian government needs to look into that,” he said.

He voiced concern that the United States would withdraw from Afghanistan before a stable government was in place.

“Quitting without doing that is not an option,” he said. “This is my conclusion, this is what needs to be understood, so that we don’t go and commit a fourth blunder which will cost our region and the world very heavily.”

Reported by Fritz Lanham

Watch the video of President Musharraf’s address at Asia Society Texas by clicking here.

Source: Asia Society

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US could have avoided Bin Laden tangle: Musharraf

October 20, 2010

WASHINGTON: Former president Pervez Musharraf said Tuesday that the United States may have been able to avoid its long hunt for Osama bin Laden if it had recognized Afghanistan’s Taliban regime.

Musharraf, who is trying to stage a political comeback, supports talks with “moderate Taliban” to find a settlement in Afghanistan where US-led forces have been fighting for more than nine years.

Pakistan was the chief supporter of the Taliban regime, which imposed a rigid brand of Islam over most of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. Musharraf reversed course overnight following the September 11 attacks.

“The world did not recognize them and we were being reprimanded for doing that,” Musharraf said at the Asia Society’s Texas Center in Houston.

“I always proposed that we need to have a different strategy. We need to recognize the Taliban and try to change them from within,” he said.

“Had we had 18 missions there, including the US mission, with the Taliban, I think we could have saved the Buddha statue and maybe we could have resolved this Osama bin Laden tangle. (It) may not have erupted, even,” he said.

Months ahead of the September 11 attacks, the Taliban defied global pressure and demolished world-famous, 1,500-year-old statues of the Buddha, considering them idolatrous in violation of Islam.

President Hamid Karzai recently set up a peace council to open up dialogue with the Taliban and broker peace in Afghanistan, where more than 150,000 US and Nato troops are deployed.

Musharraf sounded a note of vindication, saying he was accused of “double-dealing” when he advocated negotiations with the Taliban after the regime was toppled.

“The difference between now and then is now we are trying to do this from a position of weakness,” Musharraf said.

Pakistan has long faced US criticism for maintaining contact with Afghanistan’s Taliban, in what US analysts believe is a strategy by Islamabad to ensure it maintains influence in its neighbor.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were the only countries other than Pakistan that ever recognized the Taliban as Afghanistan’s government.

Source: Samaa TV

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Interview with Pervez Musharraf

November 1, 2009

Read the Transcript
This text below is a phonetic transcript of a radio story broadcast by PRI’s THE WORLD. It has been created on deadline by a contractor for PRI. The transcript is included here to facilitate internet searches for audio content. Please report any transcribing errors to theworld@pri.org. This transcript may not be in its final form, and it may be updated. Please be aware that the authoritative record of material distributed by PRI’s THE WORLD is the program audio.

Pervez MusharrafMARCO WERMAN: Afghanistan’s neighbor, Pakistan, is in the middle of a major military offensive against the Taliban. The Pakistani army is trying to take control of the militant stronghold of South Waziristan along the Afghan border. Army officials say 16 soldiers have died so far while more than 100 militants have been killed. Pakistan’s former president, General Pervez Musharraf is visiting the US right now and came to our studio. I asked him if the offensive in South Waziristan is the solution to Pakistan’s problems with the Taliban.

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF: It’s not the solution but it’s one part of the solution. I’ve always said that solution lies in a triple directional strategy – military, political, and socio-economic. So the military part is being executed well after having dealt with Swat and [INDISCERNIBLE] they’ve now gone to South Waziristan. So I think it’s good – the using of concentrated force in a peace [INDISCERNIBLE] objective.

WERMAN: And do you think the operation Swat was effective?

MUSHARRAF: Yes I think it was successful.

WERMAN: But recently there were 40 killed in a suicide attack and so it raises the issue, it’s one thing to take a region; it’s another thing to hold it.

MUSHARRAF: Well even if you hold it that doesn’t mean that you can guarantee that no suicide attack will take place. I know that the law enforcement agency, the army’s opening a [INDISCERNIBLE] there. It will be there. So it will be held. But that doesn’t mean that no bullet will be fired by any terrorist. Because if a person is there to carry out a suicide attack it’s really very difficult to avoid it.

WERMAN: There’s been a slow steady drumbeat of Afghan officials along with NATO accusing Pakistan of not doing enough to stem the movement of militants sympathetic to al-Qaeda and the Taliban across the border into Afghanistan. Why has this offensive in South Waziristan taken so long and why didn’t you engage in an equally forceful offensive in the same area?

MUSHARRAF: It was I who moved the two divisions in North and South Waziristan back and I think immediately up to [INDISCERNIBLE]. Who has been catching all these al-Qaeda people? Who did that? It was in my time. Hundreds of them have been caught. So how do you say that we hadn’t operated? They are there since long and they have been operating there.

WERMAN: So why, again, why the need for another offensive? Why this upsurge in violence?

MUSHARRAF: Yeah it’s because all these eight years there has been an upsurge of Taliban activity. A Taliban who were finished after 9/11. They had an upsurge in Afghanistan. [PH] Mula Omar and all his [INDISCERNIBLE] are reestablished in Afghanistan in the same region from where they dominated or they controlled 90 percent of Afghanistan. So after 2004 – 05 there was an upsurge. We saw the downward trend in al-Qaeda because of Pakistan’s actions and an upward trend, swing, in the Taliban support. And therefore now the situation is al-Qaeda is down. Who did this? Obviously Pakistan forces operating in Pakistan, in [INDISCERNIBLE] and mountains. But the Taliban upsurge has come about in Afghanistan and that has a great impact in Pakistan because there are now Pakistani Taliban in South and North Waziristan much stronger links with across the border and they are acting. So this is now a different ballgame all together.

WERMAN: Now as a former military leader – I mean you were a military leader who came to power in a coup. You stepped down as head of the army in 2007. You recognized at the time the merit of a civilian government in Pakistan. Now in Afghanistan yesterday a runoff election was announced to take place on November 7th. What is at stake for Pakistan with this vote in Afghanistan?

MUSHARRAF: Well I don’t think it directly affects Pakistan.

WERMAN: You don’t?

MUSHARRAF: It does affect Afghanistan.

WERMAN: But what affects Afghanistan, affects Pakistan ultimately.

MUSHARRAF: Well yes indirectly, indirectly. I think one would require if we are to win in Afghanistan we have to have a credible, legitimate government in Afghanistan. And that is not the case. But Pakistan’s interest is in a legitimate, acceptable government to all the ethnic minorities of Afghanistan for the sake of Afghanistan because if we can have better peace in Afghanistan it will be of advantage to Pakistan certainly.

WERMAN: You’ve been quite critical of President Hamid Karzai. What happens, in your opinion, to the region if he is president again? If he wins this runoff election.

MUSHARRAF: Well I think I’ve been critical, yes, because of certain observations that I had in his criticizing Pakistan, in his supporting elements who are instrumental in carrying out terrorism in Baltistan. So there are certain things that I disagree with him. These were my observations and my accusations against him. So I used to criticize him on that. The other thing is that he used to throw the entire blame on Pakistan – that whatever is happening in Afghanistan is because of Pakistan. And I think the world must understand that this is absolutely the opposite. Whatever is happening in Pakistan is because of Afghanistan. The same [INDISCERNIBLE], the same Taliban, resurgence of that force in Afghanistan.

WERMAN: But in fact it’s very hard to say where these militants are coming from. They could be coming form Pakistan as well as Afghansitan. So both countries are in fact … .

MUSHARRAF: No they are coming … . No actually there’s no doubt at all. Absolutely. I have no doubt at all. Taliban under [INDISCERNIBLE] control 90% of Afghanistan. There is support to them in Pakistan. There are safe havens in Pakistan. And there are Taliban elements of Pakistan also. But if anyone thinks that they are all coming from Pakistan this is what the misperception that exists in Untied States and this misperception is fanned by people like President Karzai unfortunately. And this is misleading the world.

WERMAN: Pervez Musharraf, former president of Pakistan. Thank you very much for your time.

MUSHARRAF: Thank you.

WERMAN: Hear more about Pervez Musharraf’s current US visit and about his plans for a return to Pakistan at our website. You’ll also find a link to the former Pakistani leader’s newly launched Facebook page. It’s all at http://www.theworld.org

Copyright ©2009 PRI’s THE WORLD. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to PRI’s THE WORLD. This transcript may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without prior written permission. For further information, please email The World’s Permissions Coordinator at theworld@pri.org

Source: The World

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Musharraf supports army operation in Waziristan

October 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’.

President Pervez Musharraf‘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.

Source: DAWN

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Musharraf: More Troops in Afghanistan

September 25, 2009
By CHRIS CUOMO, CHRIS STRATHMANN and KATE McCARTHY [ABC News]

President Musharraf - The Hope for Progressive PakistanFormer Pakistani president Gen. Pervez Musharraf said that President Obama should have complied “yesterday” with Gen. Stanley A. McChyrstal’s recommendation to send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

“I think you should take it immediately. You should have taken it yesterday,” Musharraf told ABC News in an exclusive interview.

Musharraf made his comments following the leak of McChrystal’s security assessment that called for additional U.S. troops to fight in Afghanistan. In the assessment, McChrystal said more troops alone cannot achieve success “but will enable implementation of the new strategy. Conversely, inadequate resources will likely result in failure.”

In February, Obama authorized an additional 21,000 troops be deployed to Afghanistan and now he must decide if the situation requires even more.

Musharraf said he “absolutely” believes there need to be more troops in Afghanistan.

Sending more troops could also mean an increase in casualties, something Musharraf says the United States should be prepared for.

“We must avoid, as much as possible, casualties. But when soldiers move and armies act, casualties will be there, and we should accept casualties,” Musharraf said.

“We have to win,” the former general said. “And quitting is not an option.”

Musharraf even proposed what he called a “drastic” measure to secure the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“As far as I’m concerned, we should mine it so that people can’t go across,” Musharraf said.

While he acknowledged that mines are a controversial weapon, Musharraf argued that it is an “unusual war.”

Musharraf dismissed Afghanistan’s long history of defeating foreign armies, including the Soviet army in the 1980s.

“There’s always a first time,” Musharraf said.

He argued the United States could succeed where the Soviets failed because “the whole world” was helping insurgents fight the Soviets.

At another point, the former Pakistani general said, “It was you who invaded and came into Afghanistan, so you better face it now and win there.”

When asked what the consequences would be if the United States withdrew from Afghanistan, Musharraf said it would result in destabilizing Afghanistan. He said the country would become the center of all al Qaeda “sanctuaries” and consequently could extend its influence into Pakistan and possibly even India.

Musharraf said he believes Obama has “intentions of improvement” since taking office.

“He’s saying the right things. He wants to focus more on Afghanistan, compared to Iraq, which is the right strategy at this moment,” Musharraf said. “He wants to reach out to the Muslims.”

Musharraf added that “we need to see [results] on ground.

Returning to Pakistan

Musharraf came to power in 1999 following a military coup and resigned in 2008 amid threats of impeachment after he removed a Supreme Court judge from the bench and imposed emergency rule on the country.

The former president said he “will return to Pakistan” despite the possibility of facing trial as soon as he sets foot in the country.

“Well, these are realities which one has to face. But however, I am very sure of one thing — that whatever I have done till now, constitutionally and legally, there is no charge against me,” Musharraf said.

When asked if he would try to return to power, Musharraf would not answer the question directly.

“Well, I give thought to what is happening in Pakistan. And I give thought to what the people of Pakistan are desiring, and I also give thought to whether I can do anything for Pakistan,” Musharraf said. “Collectively, I have to make a decision based on all these three elements.”

The former general, who is currently living in exile in London, is prohibited by law from running for political office until this December, two years after he took off his military uniform.

Should Musharraf decide to return to politics, he likely would face Nawaz Sharif, a political opponent and someone the former president called “abrasive” and confrontational.

“He has never been on good terms with any president of Pakistan, so I don’t know what kind of a mental make-up he has. But the man is abrasive against the other power brokers of Pakistan,” Musharraf said.

The former general even went so far as to call Sharif a “closet Taliban.”

“Even on Pakistan television these days, talk shows are going on saying that he has met Osama bin Laden five times — five times before 9/11 — and he has been financed by Osama bin Laden,” Musharraf said. “Then the other element is that he never speaks against terrorism and extremism.”

But when pressed for proof of Sharif’s meetings with bin Laden, Musharraf said he personally could not offer any.

“No, I can’t do that, but there are certainly there are people who vouch for it, who were present there,” Musharraf said.

Source: ABC News

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Danger for Pakistan, India if US quits Afghanistan: Musharraf

September 25, 2009

* Washington must immediately send more troops to Afghanistan, be ready for casualties
* Calls Nawaz ‘closet Taliban’, says PML-N chief never speaks against terrorism, extremism

Daily Times Monitor

President MusharrafLAHORE: Pakistan and India will face great danger from Al Qaeda if the United States pulls out of Afghanistan, former president Pervez Musharraf said on Thursday.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Musharraf said a US pullout would result in an unstable Afghanistan.

“The country [Afghanistan] will become the centre of all Al Qaeda sanctuaries and consequently could extend its influence into Pakistan and possibly even India,” Musharraf said.

Troops: To a question on the US consideration of sending more troops to Afghanistan, he said US President Obama should have complied with Gen Stanley McChyrstal’s recommendation “yesterday”. “I think you should take it immediately. You should have taken it yesterday,” Musharraf said.

Musharraf said he “absolutely” believed there needed to be more troops in Afghanistan. But he said sending more troops could mean an increase in casualties, something the US should be prepared for.

“We must avoid casualties, as much as possible. But when soldiers move and armies act, casualties will be there, and we should accept casualties,” he said.

He said the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan should be mined, a proposition he termed “drastic”.

“As far as I’m concerned, we should mine it so that people can’t go across,” Musharraf said.

He called PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif “abrasive” and confrontational.

“He has never been on good terms with any president of Pakistan,” he said, adding that Nawaz was a “closet Taliban”.

“Even on Pakistan Television these days, talk shows are going on saying that he has met Osama Bin Laden five times – five times before 9/11 – and he has been financed by Osama,” Musharraf said. “Then the other element is that he never speaks against terrorism and extremism.”

Source: Daily Times

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