Bloomberg News

India, Pakistan to Struggle for Afghan Influence, Musharraf Says

November 07, 2011

Nov. 6 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan will lead to India and Pakistan struggling over influence in the war-torn country, according to Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s former president.

An unstable Afghanistan reeling from U.S. withdrawal, with bordering India and Pakistan fighting for influence, will lead to disarray in the region, Musharraf said on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” in an interview to be aired today.

“I think it’s going to be very difficult, very difficult,” the retired Pakistani army chief said. “I get a feeling that maybe we will revert to” the regional instability that that preceded the 2001 U.S.-led invasion after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Pakistan has been “bending backward” trying to help train Afghan troops and intelligence personnel, yet Afghan “diplomats, intelligence personnel, military men, security people go to India for training,” Musharraf said. He said he doesn’t trust Afghan President Hamid Karzai “at all.”

Karzai said last month that Afghanistan is a loyal neighbor to Pakistan and would assist if Pakistan were attacked by the U.S. Musharraf said the notion is “totally preposterous” during the CNN interview

U.S.-Pakistani relations deteriorated after American forces killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan without the knowledge or permission of Pakistani authorities. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton led a U.S. delegation of civilian and military leaders to Pakistan last month to improve cooperation.

Nuclear Weapons Safe

Musharraf said he’s confident Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are safe even though the U.S. raid on bin Laden in Pakistan went undetected by his country and there have been media reports that its nuclear sites have been attacked by militants and weapons transported in low-security convoys.

Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are secure unless “Pakistan is taken over by some religious extremist political organization,” and “I don’t see that happening in the near future,” Musharraf said.

The weapons “are very well dispersed and they are in very strong positions, and also guarded,” Musharraf said. “I don’t think it’s as simple as an Osama bin Laden action or a one-point action which is a soft target. This is a very hard target.”

Musharraf has repeatedly said he didn’t know Osama bin Laden was hiding in the Pakistani army town of Abbottabad, where U.S. forces killed him in May, and doesn’t think the country’s intelligence service protected the al-Qaeda leader.

“It’s not a case of complicity, it’s a case of terrible negligence,” he said. Musharraf, who lives in London, has formed a political party and said he plans to return to Pakistan next year. Musharraf resigned in 2008 amid repeated calls for his impeachment over his ouster of Supreme Court justices and imposition of emergency rule.

--Editors: Ann Hughey, Christian Thompson.

To contact the reporter on this story: William McQuillen in Washington at bmcquillen@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at Msilva34@bloomberg.net.


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