By Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC
Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has alleged that it is not Pakistan that is carrying out a proxy war against India in Afghanistan, but the other way around, with the Indian consulates in Kandahar and Jalalabad, veritable offices of the Indian intelligence, the Research and Analysis Wing, to foment terrorism in Pakistan.
During an interaction at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC, former Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs in the Clinton administration Karl Inderfurth asked Musharraf as to why both Pakistan and India -- that have interests in Afghanistan -- cannot eschew fighting proxy wars and endeavour toward proxy peace.
Musharraf immediately shot back, "But who is initiating the proxy war is the first question. I am for Pakistan obviously, but please don't think that I am saying all this to protect Pakistan."
"I know there are many Indians sitting here, but unless we face facts and we fight this terrorism, this unity of thought and action, we will fail," he said.
Musharraf said, "There is an Indian consulate in Kandahar and in Jalalabad. Why are these two there on the Pakistan border? Is there an Indian community there? Is India doing some trade there?
"What is the interest of India in these two consulates," he asked, and answering his rhetorical question himself, said, "Nothing other than carrying out, aiding, abetting terrorism in Pakistan -- stabbing Pakistan in the back."
Musharraf said, "I have documentary evidence of this. I know Indian intelligence, RAW is coming into these consulates, I know the construction activity of roads that they are doing, and I have been telling President (Hamid) Karzai, don't give construction activities for Indians on our border. They could go anywhere in the interior or in the West or anywhere. We will build the roads for your."
But he said Karzai was adamant that the India should build there, and according to Musharraf, this facilitated RAW agents to operate from there 'because they want to pump in terrorists into Pakistan'.
The erstwhile military dictator alleged that 'all training of Afghan diplomats, police, military, intelligence, takes place in India. I have been offering everything to Karzai', but the Afghan president would always say he wants nothing from Pakistan, but only from India.
Thus, Musharraf reiterated, "What is happening is, we are being stabbed in the back. So what does Pakistan do? What should the ISI do? ISI is supposed to protect Pakistan's interests."
For all of Musharraf's assertions, there has been credible evidence -- confirmed by the CIA -- that it was the ISI that was behind the suicide bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul a few years ago, and other attacks aimed against Indian personnel and property in Afghanistan.
But Musharraf said it was imperative that 'the United States must understand what is happening. And, let me say -- and I have said this openly to everyone -- help Pakistan in stopping all this. There must not be a proxy war here. I totally agree, but please understand who's doing it and why it's done'.
Musharraf also said, "The United States needs to develop a better understanding of the ISI and (Pakistani) army, instead of blaming the army and the ISI for collaborating with the Taliban. I don't understand why this is done."
"On one side, the army has suffered 2,500 dead at the hands of the same Taliban. So, they are killing the army men and you are blaming the army," he lamented. "So, I don't understand this. They are killing the ISI personnel -- about 300 dead and out of about eight or 10 bomb attacks on ISI offices all over Pakistan. Yet, you are blaming that they are collaborating with the Taliban."
Musharraf urged the US not to engage in micro-management and to leave this to Pakistan.
"Be concerned with their intentions that they don't want Taliban and Al Qaeda. And, be concerned with their strategic delivery."
"But don't micromanage policy. They understand who to talk to, how to talk," he added.
Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has expressed his bitter resentment toward United States President Barack Obama and his administration for developing a strategic partnership with India while using Pakistan only for its strategic convenience. While speaking at the Atlantic Council, a Washington, DC-based think tank, Musharraf lashed out against Obama's decision not to visit Pakistan during his recent visit to Asia, the first stop of which was India where he spent three days.
The former dictator-turned-president also blasted India for everything from human rights violations in Kashmir to fomenting terror against Pakistan from its (India's) consulates in Afghanistan.
The erstwhile military dictator said that the US obviously wanted to make a play for the defence market in India, reportedly worth $45 billion in arms purchases.
Reportage: Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC
"I don't believe in Pakistan being Indo-centric and I do believe in the importance of bilateral relationships," he said with regard to Obama's visit to India, adding, "I don't want to talk much about it."
But he went on anyway, "If the US president wants to go to India, he has all the right to do so. But if Pakistan is a strategic partner, if Pakistan has strategic significance, and Pakistan is suffering because of so many bomb blasts, hundreds if not thousands of people dead, the Pakistani army has suffered, 2,500 dead, Pakistan's ISI has suffered, about 300 dead, and then we had these floods -- massive floods, unprecedented and so many dead, I thought President Obama should have shown some concern for this small strategic partner and visited Pakistan."
"And there was also no mention of Kashmir," he said. "I couldn't explain that."
Musharraf asserted that Kashmir "is the root," of the imbroglio in South Asia, "and that is my concern that President Obama goes (to India) and doesn't even talk of Kashmir."
"For heaven's sake, in this unipolar world, you are a sole superpower. You have responsibilities toward everyone. Therefore, I thought, maybe at least he should have mentioned that you need to -- the two of you -- resolve the Kashmir dispute."
Musharraf acknowledged that he could understand India's aversion to third party intervention or mediation and "yes, indeed, it should not be involved and we should resolve Kashmir bilaterally, which we were doing during my time and we were near a solution. But certainly, from the sole superpower, one expects concern for Pakistan, if indeed it's a strategic ally of importance."
The former leader, now living in exile in the United Kingdom since resigning in 2008, warned that Pakistan-based militant groups could once again join in the fighting against Indian troops in Kashmir.
He recalled, "In 1989, when Kashmir erupted -- freedom struggle erupted in the Indian part of Kashmir -- dozens of mujaheddin groups sprung up within Pakistan, and thousands of people were prepared, volunteering to join, to go to India to help Kashmiris fight against the Indian army."
And, all these much maligned names of Lashkar-e-Tayiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Hizbul Mujaheddin etc are products of 1990s," he said. "Now, when there is another intifada kind of movement of the people of Indian-held Kashmir and that is suppressed by the Indian army with hundreds of people killed, these very Mujaheddin groups again start rising and people give them a lot of support."
He also lamented the fact that Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme was always looked upon by suspicion. "(It's called) The rogue element, the rogue nuclear state, rogue army, Islamic bomb."
"I don't know why the Indian bomb is not a Hindu bomb or the Israeli bomb is not a Jewish bomb. Why is the Pakistani bomb only an Islamic bomb? I don't understand this logic," he said.
But, Musharraf argued that Pakistan's nuclear weapons arsenal exists because of the 'existential threat' from India.
"Pakistan's nuclear or strategic capability is an existential compulsion, which is not the case with India," he said. "And, I don't understand the logic or no Pakistani will ever understand the logic of why Pakistan's nuclear assets are disturbing the world."
Musharraf declared, "Our nuclear or strategic assets are the pride of every man walking the streets of Pakistan. So, any indication of negativism coming from abroad, a threat coming on the strategic capability of Pakistan, is viewed extremely seriously by every individual Pakistani."
When queried on whether he believed the main existential threat to Pakistan was from India, he made no bones about it, saying, "It is to do with India, certainly. Indian forces today are based on 33 infantry divisions, 25 of them are oriented towards Pakistan border."
He continued, "They have got about six armoured and mechanised divisions, which have the offensive fronts, all six organised against Pakistan border. Their forward air bases are all oriented toward Pakistan border. Their navy, mainly oriented toward Pakistani shores. Their air force, which is three to four times bigger than Pakistan's, is oriented against Pakistan borders. So, what do you expect?
Musharraf said, "And, when there are incidents like the attack on the Parliament, in my time, the whole (Indian) army came on to the borders of Pakistan, and therefore, we had to move our army and there was a war situation that developed. So, what do you expect Pakistan to do? It's an existential threat."
He said when incidents like the Parliament attack takes place, "then the politicians in India, are crying for punishment on Pakistan, attacking Pakistan, etc. etc."