“The nurturing and protection of terrorists like Saeed by Pakistan is the main issue between Kabul and Islamabad and between New Delhi and Islamabad”
By Geeta Mohan-Afghanistan’s former President Hamid Karzai said the “entire world knows that Hafiz Saeed was responsible for the Mumbai attacks and it is sad that a responsible Pakistani authority- Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi- referred to the Lashkar-e-Taiba co-founder as “sahib”.
In an exclusive interview with India Today, Karzai said that the nurturing and protection of terrorists like Saeed by Pakistan is the main issue between Kabul and Islamabad and between New Delhi and Islamabad.
On Abbasi’s remark that “there is no evidence against Hafiz Saeed sahib in Pakistan” and the free hand he gets in that country, Karzai said, “This is sad. Hafiz Saeed was responsible for the Mumbai attacks and the whole world knows it. A responsible authority would try to overlook and make a statement like that is sad.”
Hoping that the US too takes up the issue with Pakistan, he said that if America comes on board with the rest of us on Pakistan, “I would suggest that the US takes along other major powers in the region like Russia and China. A concerted, united effort would force Pakistan to cooperate.”
On US President Donald Trump’s fiery tweet against Pakistan and the tough position that American administration has taken against Pakistan on the issue of terrorism, Karzai shed the distrust he has against US and hoped that this time Washington will not repeat its mistakes and “walk the talk”.
The former President also believes that China will come on board against combating terrorism in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region despite Beijing’s continuously blocking attempts by India, the US, France and the UK to list Jaish-e-Mohammed chief and Pathankot terror attack mastermind Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the United Nations.
“It is a particular issue between China, India and Pakistan with many intricacies involved. I am not privy to that. But China is also facing extremism in Xinjiang. It definitely wants to curb extremism. China knows where those terrorist were nurtured and trained. Given the right environment, China will come on board,” Karzai said.
While Karzai will continue to play an important role in regional and domestic politics of Afghanistan, he in no uncertain words told India Today that he doesn’t intend to stand for office in any capacity and the constitutional provision restricting presidential terms is a good thing and allows space to younger generation.
Here is Hamid Karzai’s interview with India Today:
- Is there any honesty in the narrative Pakistan is trying to build about India-sponsored terrorism especially in the light of the Kulbhushan Jadhav case?
A.- “It is not true; it does not help. When I was President, Pakistan told me that there are terror sanctuaries in Afghanistan. I said it is because Pakistan had weakened Afghanistan so much,” Karzai said. “The same terror outfits nurtured by Pakistan are haunting it now.”
- Once India’s closest ally, Russia has developed ties with Pakistan and is selling military equipment to Islamabad. Is it worrying?
- “Like India has become closer to the US, Russia has the right to be close to other countries. Russia, which is a great world power, has also suffered from extremism. It has everything to gain from cooperation against extremism. Russia had differences with the US, but endorsed Washington’s efforts in Afghanistan 15 years ago. We all are negatively affected by extremism,” Karzai said.
Karzai also squarely blamed Washington for the present situation in Afghanistan and said that the “war on terror has faltered, rather probably failed”.
“Who is responsible for where we are today and the arrival of the menacing Islamic State? We have more insecurity in Afghanistan and the whole region. The US policy is responsible. It neglected terror sanctuaries beyond Afghanistan.”
He said, “We all know the depth of military intelligence between the two. The intelligence between US and Pakistan goes back several years. Their relationship is responsible for the mess in Pakistan and Afghanistan. They nurtured and promoted religious extremism. But Trump’s tweet has the greatest clarity. It brings us hope and we now want action.”
- How deeply Pakistani establishment is entrenched in LeT and JeM?
- Very much. These organisations have given temporary advantages to the Pakistani establishment. It is like an addict enjoying a drug. But now it is a malaise now and we can see the results in Pakistan. All cities such as Peshawar, Lahore, Karachi, Quetta are affected.
- How India and Kabul can come together and tackle the security issues?
- PM Modi hosted a dinner conversation to deepen cooperation. It goes beyond politics and into all areas. India is as much concerned about lack of security in Afghanistan. We discussed that in our policies and find solutions.
- What do you think of US President Donald Trump after his tweet against Pakistan?
- I welcome the tough stand but will wait to see action. It is good that they recognise state-sponsored terrorism and the terror sanctuaries that exist in Pakistan. “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years. They have given us nothing but lies, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan with little help. No more!”
Here’s what former president Karzai said on other issues:
“I endorse Modi’s Balochistan stand. The Baloch people have suffered a lot and they should be given rights and freedom from oppression.”
On Russia’s support to Pakistan
“This is new. Russia also suffers from terrorism and understands the danger”.
On China supporting Pakistan
“China also suffers from terrorism. In my meetings with the Chinese they have told me that they know where the terror sanctuaries are. In the end they will stand with us in the fight against terrorism. They need the right environment for it.”
On Pakistan military establishment ISI and terror factories:
“The Pakistan military establishment continues to support the terror networks and the US should see that. The people of Pakistan want peace but the military establishment won’t allow that.”