Musharraf was a close ally of US: Pentagon

Former Pakistani leader admits training militant groups to fight in Kashmir.

Last Updated: Oct 06, 2010, 13:00 PM IST

Washington: Former Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who has admitted that his country had trained underground militant groups to fight in Kashmir, was a close ally of the US in the war on terrorism, the Pentagon has said.

"He (Musharraf) was a very close ally. They (Pakistan) had a very tough choice to make. Pakistan did, in the wake of the attacks of 9/11, given some of the terrorist threats within their own country," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters when asked about the role of Musharraf in war against terrorism post 9/11.

"They came out strongly and forcefully as an ally of this country in the war on terror. And that`s where they`ve remained ever since. So we`re enormously appreciative of that fact," Morrell said.

A day earlier, Musharraf in an interview to German magazine Der Spiegel said Pakistan under him had trained militant underground groups to fight against India in Kashmir.

"They (underground militant groups to fight against India in Kashmir) were indeed formed. The (the Nawaz Sharif) government turned a blind eye because they wanted India to discuss Kashmir," Musharraf told the Spiegel.

Musharraf indicated he had no regrets for the Kargil intrusion, that led to an armed conflict with India in 1999, and argued that each country had a right to promote its national interest.

"Yes, it is the right of any country to promote its own interests when India is not prepared to discuss Kashmir at the United Nations and is not prepared to resolve the dispute in a peaceful manner," Musharraf said.

"The West was ignoring the resolution of the Kashmir issue, which is the core issue of Pakistan. We expected the West -- especially the United States and important countries like Germany -- to resolve the Kashmir issue. Has Germany done that?" the former Pak military ruler asked.

"The West blames Pakistan for everything. Nobody asks the Indian prime minister, why did you arm your country with a nuclear weapon? Why are you killing innocent civilians in Kashmir? Nobody was bothered that Pakistan got split in 1971 because of India`s military backing for Bangladesh. The United States and Germany gave statements, but they didn`t mean anything," he said.

"Everybody is interested in strategic deals with India, but Pakistan is always seen as the rogue," said Musharraf, who overthrew Sharif`s government in a bloodless coup in 1999, had also as Army chief presided over the Kargil misadventure that had threatened to scale up into a full-fledged war between India and Pakistan.

Musharraf launched his political party the All Pakistan Muslim League in London and announced his intention to contest the 2013 election.

PTI