Washington, June 26: General Pervez Musharraf came to Washington with a plan to reclaim Afghanistan for Pakistan, as in the days of Taliban rule, and has been soundly rebuffed by the Bush administration.
Two months ago, when plans for Musharraf’s trip to Washington were being finalised, he summoned US diplomats in Islamabad and proposed to them that about 50,000 troops — including a large contingent of Pakistanis — should be sent to a dozen places scattered over Afghanistan to establish control by the International Security Assistance Force at locations outside Kabul.
The plan appears to have the blessings of Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai, but administration officials here told Musharraf during talks this week that they neither saw the urgency nor the international will to build such an expanded force.
Musharraf’s objective in crafting the proposal was to pre-empt India from gaining influence in Afghanistan.
The full story of Musharraf’s agenda for Afghanistan emerged not from official briefings, but at an hour-long meeting which the general had with reporters and editors at The Washington Post.
The Post has published only an abridged version of the meeting in its US editions, but from excerpts of the question-answer session that are available, Musharraf spoke angrily that “India’s motivation in Afghanistan is very clear: nothing further than upsetting Pakistan”.
Musharraf said in response to a question about Indian activities in Afghanistan: “Why should they (Indians) have consulates in Jalalabad and Kandahar, for example' What is their interest' There is no interest other than disturbing Pakistan, doing something against Pakistan.
“President Karzai has certainly assured me that he will not allow anybody, and he has evinced this to India also I know, a foreign territory to be used against Pakistan and no activities against Pakistan.
“But one remains concerned and one will keep addressing this issue... I think it depends on how much potential there is to control all that Indians are trying to do.”
The general said of his plans for deploying up to 50,000 Pakistani and other forces across Afghanistan: “The strategies that I enunciated I have spoken to him (Karzai) about it... I talk to him very frequently. I spoke to him before flying here... I have the best of relationship with him, and it’s very clear that he and I are exactly on similar lines. There is no dispute, there is no disparity.”
The general said in excerpts not published in US print editions of the Post that there will be no war with India. “Two hundred per cent, there won’t be war... I don’t see any war in the near future, foreseeable future.”