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NATO exit may fuel Pak-India proxy war: Musharraf

NATO exit may fuel Pak-India proxy war: Musharraf

Nov 18, 2014 - 15:28

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Former Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf has warned the departure of NATOinfo-icon combat forces could push India and Pakistaninfo-icon into a proxy war in Afghanistaninfo-icon.

Musharraf, who ousted an elected government of then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a 1999 bloodless coup, ruled Pakistan until 2008.

A key US ally in the 'war on terror', he now lives under tight security in his Karachi home, facing Talibaninfo-icon death threats and a litany of criminal cases dating back to his near decade-long rule.

The 71-year-old praised new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in an interview with AFP. Ghani made his first official trip to Pakistan last week in a bid to reset fractious ties with Islamabad.

Pakistan's support is seen as crucial to Afghan peace as US-led forces pull out by the end of this year. But Musharraf said calming tension between India and Pakistan is key to peace in Afghanistan. "The danger for Pakistan is... the Indian influence in Afghanistan."

"That is another danger for the whole region and for Pakistan because Indian involvement there has an anti-Pakistan connotation. They (India) want to create an anti-Pakistan Afghanistan."

"If Indians are using some elements of the ethnic entities in Afghanistan, then Pakistan will use its own support for ethnic elements, and our ethnic elements are certainly Pashtuns," Musharraf said. "So we are initiating a proxy war in Afghanistan. This must be avoided."

Musharraf blamed India for supporting separatist rebels in Pakistan's southwestern province of Baluchistan via training camps in southern Afghanistan -- a common accusation in Pakistani military circles.

Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai routinely accused Pakistan of secretly backing the Taliban as a hedge against Indian influence in his country.

Musharraf criticised former Afghan president Hamid Karzai for sending officials for training in India and not Pakistan, saying "these small things add up to strategic problems".

Ghani and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pledged at the weekend to move on from the sniping and bitterness of the Karzai years, with the Afghan leader saying three days of talks had undone 13 years of differences.

But Musharraf warned that regional rivalries could flourish again once NATO's 34,000-strong combat contingent leaves by the end of next month.

"When there is an absence of all these forces, then yes there would be a vacuum... in that case there can be more serious repercussion," he said.

Musharraf said he stands by his decision to ally Pakistan with Washington in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

But he said that the US-led coalition that invaded Afghanistan to oust the Taliban had "failed to convert a military victory into a political victory" when it handed power to Tajiks and thereby alienated many Pashtuns.


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