Omar asked Musharraf to bomb Kandahar: US cable
PESHAWAR (Pajhwok): The State Department says the late Taliban supremo Mullah Omar had asked the Gen. Musharraf government to bomb southern Kandahar province if it did not like the movement’s policies.
A secret US cable released by the State Department reveals Musharraf conveyed the message to then Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering at a meeting in Islamabad on March 26, 2000.
Dawn reported Musharraf -- then chief executive -- cited a visit of ISI Director-General Gen Mahmud to Kandahar, where Mullah Omar voiced his regrets over Pakistan’s problems resulting from Taliban policies.
If Islamabad did not like those policies, the Taliban leader suggested, Pakistan might bring in weapons and begin shelling Kandahar, the military dictator told Pickering.
Asked by Musharraf to engage with the Taliban, Pickering said the US had been in contact with the insurgent movement at multiple venues on repeated occasions -- Washington, New York and Islamabad.
The American diplomat said Pakistan being the strongest supporter of the Taliban was of particular concern to the US. “This presented us with the anomaly of a good friend being the best friend of our worst enemy.”
Washington understood why Gen Musharraf did not want to go to Kandahar without being able to bring back concrete results, the official said. “But it was important that he recognise that the Bin Laden issue was eating away at our relationship.”
Aware of US concerns, Musharraf said he was personally dealing with the Taliban on three issues: Terrorist training camps and the sanctuary given to Pakistani terrorists, peace and Osama Bin Laden.
The ex-general informed Pickering the Taliban continued to want to see proof of Bin Laden’s guilt. The US official pointed out they had recently given Pakistan a full presentation of evidence against the AL-Qaeda chief.
Pickering acknowledged the US did could address the Bin Laden issue without help from Pakistan. “If the Taliban did not believe that Pakistan took the matter seriously, they would be reluctant to take anything we said seriously.”
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