India playing great game in Afghanistan: Musharraf

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : Accusing India of trying to gain influence in Kabul after the planned US withdrawal by 2014, former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf has also hit out at Afghan president Hamid Karzai for “going along” with it.

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“India is certainly, certainly doing that. And, unfortunately, Afghan government is going along,” Musharraf told CNN Sunday in an interview when asked if he saw a new great game beginning where Pakistan and India are struggling for influence in Afghanistan.

“I mean, I know that diplomats, intelligence personnel, military men, security people, go to India for training,” Musharraf said, suggesting that similar offers from Pakistan were rebuffed.

“I have been bending backwards, asking President Karzai to send people to Pakistan instead of India,” he said. “We’ve opened up all our training institutions free of cost. Come to Pakistan and we’ll train you. Not one has come.”

“What is his game?” Musharraf asked, suggesting that the planned pullout of US troops from Afghanistan due to be completed by 2014 had pushed Karzai closer to India.

Musharraf said he did “not at all” trust Karzai, but thanked him for once making a pro-Pakistan statement though he dismissed as “preposterous” a suggestion that the US may attack Pakistan.

Asked about Karzai’s recent statement that Kabul would back Pakistan if the United States were to attack Pakistan, he said: “I think it’s totally preposterous to imagine this kind of thing.”

“And then I thank him that this is the first time he’s made a pro-Pakistan statement.”

Musharraf believed Karzai would not be able to hold on to power as the Americans draw down. “I think it’s going to be very difficult. Very difficult. Very, very difficult. He is not liked by the majority of Pashtuns because of what he is doing.”

Musharraf also dismissed suggestions in an article in The Atlantic magazine about the dangers to Pakistan’s nuclear assets as over the last few years there have been six attacks by militants on sites that are generally known to be Pakistani nuclear sites.

“Well, no. I don’t think so. Our nuclear assets are very well dispersed, they are – and strongly held and in – placed in very, very reinforced areas which cannot be – which are not accessible,” he said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])