US could have avoided Afghan war: Musharraf
Last Updated: Sunday, October 24, 2010, 11:00
  
Houston: Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf has said that the US could have avoided the nine-year long war in Afghanistan, had it recognised the then Taliban regime there.

"I always proposed that we need to have a different strategy. We need to recognise the Taliban and try to change them from within," he said, adding that had there been US and other foreign missions in Afghanistan "maybe we could have resolved this Osama bin Laden tangle. (It) may not have erupted even”.

Pakistan's former military ruler said the acceptance of Taliban by the global community could not only have prevented the war in Afghanistan but would also helped in saving the Bamiyan Buddhas.

“Had we had 18 missions there, including the US mission, with the Taliban I think we could have saved the Buddha statues," he said at the Asia Society's Texas Centre.

Defying global pressure, the two colossal 1,500-year-old statues of Buddha, carved into the sandstone cliffs of Bamiyan, were demolished by the Taliban on March 2001 as part of a campaign to rid the land of all un-Islamic graven images.

Musharraf pointed that the US-backed talk-process with Taliban is "from a position of weakness" and an attempt to end the war in Afghanistan, but said that he supports the dialogue with "moderate Taliban".

On his plans to return to Pakistan politics by fighting elections in 2013 and launch of a party called All Pakistan Muslim League in London, Musharraf said, "I personally feel the environment in Pakistan at this moment is absolutely right for initiating a new party."

He is counting on Houston's 75,000 Pakistan origin people to help him lead to the victory by giving financial support and political support.

A longtime political observer Kamran Riaz said, "One of the reasons Musharraf is here is to gain some financial support."

"He thinks the US thinks of him as an ally, so in addition to getting financial support he can also get some political support."

The former Pakistan president has a set of Houston meetings planned this week with wealthy Pakistani-Americans and corporate leaders.

"I do need financial support, and I would ask the American Pakistani Diaspora to support me ... because I see darkness in Pakistan," Musharraf said. "Because I don't see a political party or a leader in Pakistan to be able to tackle the problems that Pakistan is facing."

US communities do not play a visible role in Pakistan elections, but Musharraf could stand to gain from his current North America tour, Jamal Elias, an expert on contemporary Pakistan and chairman of the religious studies department at the University of Pennsylvania, said.

Musharraf is also going to campaign in Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Toronto. He visited Dallas last week.

Many Pakistani-American elites have in the past contributed financially to political parties in Pakistan and will likely do so again, said MJ Khan, a former Houston city councilman and member of the Pakistani community.

Khan said he did not send money to Pakistani political candidates, but knows US residents in Houston and elsewhere who do. "They're an educated community, and they send a lot of resources to Pakistan," Khan said.

"So I think every politician in Pakistan feels the Pakistani-American community is an important group to reach out to," he added.

PTI


First Published: Sunday, October 24, 2010, 11:00


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