Recognising Taliban govt in Afghanistan was blunder: Musharraf

Karachi: Former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf today admitted that recognising the Taliban regime in Afghanistan was a “blunder” on part of Pakistan, but he blamed the West and the US for the birth of al-Qaeda.

Speaking to the Youth Parliament here, Musharraf pointed out that Pakistan was the only country that recognised the Taliban government in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 as Saudi Arabia and the UAE later also backed out.

The 71-year-old leader admitted that recognising the Taliban regime was a blunder on Pakistan’s part.

The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 changed the political climate worldwide and “three blunders” were created by the US who left the region after withdrawal of Soviets, said Musharraf, who ruled over Pakistan from 1999 to 2008.

The “first blunder was not to rehabilitation the 25,000 Afghan Mujahideen who fought in the war against USSR and they then came to Pakistan which led to the formation of al Qaeda,” he said.

“The second blunder was the West?s refusal to recognise Taliban.”

He said Pakistan was looked at negatively by the world because of recognising the Taliban regime and conceded that in 2000 the then US President Bill Clinton came to Pakistan to reprimand the government for recognising the Taliban.

Moving on to the third blunder, the former president said the invasion of US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan pushed militants to mountainous areas.

“A vacuum was created in Afghanistan which had to be overcome by changing military victory into a political victory,” he said, explaining an ethnically balanced government representing Pakhtuns was needed.

“But because this did not happen, the Taliban started reviving in 2003.”

Musharraf said the Taliban was self-created because of the environment that existed in Afghanistan at that time.

“Some say Taliban are our children and we created them? but it’s not true,” the former president said.

“During this tumultuous period, frankly, not one civilian government performed socio-economically for Pakistan. Not one.

Other than the military government,” he claimed.

Taking a jab at the current government, he said, “The economy is nose-diving and terrorism is prevalent in all provinces.”

Musharraf also said tensions between Pakistan and India will always exist until the Kashmir issue is not resolved.

“Political parties do not take better decisions in the greater interest of the nation and democratic governments have never performed well in Pakistan,” he claimed.

“Progress was only made during Ayub Khan?s regime besides mine,” he said, adding that the Army must have a constitutional role in Pakistan.