The departure of NATO combat forces from Afghanistan could push India and Pakistan toward a proxy war in the troubled state, former Pakistani president General Pervez Musharraf said in an interview with Agence France-Presse (AFP).
As Pakistan’s leader, Musharraf was a key US ally in its “war on terror,” but he now lives under tight security in Karachi, facing Taliban death threats and a litany of criminal cases dating back to his almost 10-year rule that ended in 2008.
The 71-year-old — who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999 — praised new Afghan President Ashram Ghani, who made his first official trip to Pakistan last week in a bid to reset ties with Islamabad.
Pakistan’s support is seen as crucial to Afghan peace, as US-led forces are to pull out by the end of this year after 13 years battling the Taliban. However, the former leader said that calming tension between India and Pakistan — running high at the moment after some of the worst cross-border firing in years — is key to peace in Afghanistan.
“The danger for Pakistan is... the Indian influence in Afghanistan,” he told AFP at his house in Karachi. “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.”
The neighbors have long accused each other of using proxy forces to try to gain influence in Afghanistan.
While India has tried to gain traction with the Tajik ethnic group in northern Afghanistan, Pakistan has sought to use its leverage with Pashtuns in the south and east, who make up the majority of the Taliban.
“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 criticized former Afghan president Hamid Karzai for sending officials for training in India and not Pakistan.
“These small things add up to strategic problems,” he said.
Ghani and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pledged last week to move on from the bitterness of the Karzai years, with Ghani saying three days of talks had undone 13 years of differences.
However, Musharraf said that regional rivalries could flourish again once NATO’s 34,000-member combat contingent leaves.
“When there is an absence of all these forces, then yes, there would be a vacuum... In that case, there can be more serious repercussions,” he said.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong (FCC) yesterday said that reporters in the territory were experiencing “highly unusual” visas problems, and called on the US and China to stop using the media as a political weapon. Journalists have been caught up in US-China tensions, with both sides placing limits or expelling reporters from their territories in the past few months. Now the spat is filtering into Hong Kong, a regional press hub nominally in charge of its own immigration policies. The FCC said in a statement that multiple media firms had reported delays getting visas in recent months. “The delays have affected journalists