Extremists within pose danger, but India a military threat: Musharraf

May 18th, 2009 - 10:52 am ICT by IANS  

Pervez Musharraf By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 17 (IANS) Former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf has said Islamabad was keeping its forces on the border with India because of a threat perception and not because it was less focused on the threat from Taliban extremists.

“Well, we have to be balanced in our approach. On the eastern border, if Pakistan’s existence and security is under threat, when a big force like India is maintaining,” he said in an interview on CNN’s GPS programme Sunday.

Denying that Pakistan was overly focused on the threat from India when the Taliban were only 96 km from Islamabad and trying to take over the province of Punjab, Musharraf claimed India has concentrated bulk of its forces on Pakistan borders.

He said the Indians did so after the November Mumbai terror attacks and “after the attack on the parliament (in December 2001), also, we had this whole army, this whole force came on the borders. For 10 months they were there.”

“Obviously, I put my force there, and I threatened them, that if you try to attack us, we are able to attack you. So, don’t take Pakistan lightly,” he said. “So, Pakistan’s security cannot be compromised. That is the first thing.”

“Let me assure you that against India we maintain a deterrence level of force, conventional. And India will never attack us, as long as we have this force. They cannot. They know what we have, conventional and unconventional.”

Asserting “Pakistan’s security is not being compromised by the Taliban,” Musharraf said. “They are not of that strength… They dare not come onto the capital. They will be stopped by any force, any time.”

But he admitted that extremist elements within the country posed a threat. “…some elements who are right inside Islamabad… now, these are the people within our society. They are a small minority.”

“But we must control them, because if we don’t control this extremism inside our society, they develop linkages with the Taliban who are there, and Al Qaeda. So, Al Qaeda, Taliban and these people develop linkages. We have to break that linkage through squeezing them.”

Denying that Pakistani military is not taking extremists as an existential threat, Musharraf said: “We must not try to teach the Pakistan army where is the threat coming from. They analyse things.

“So, yes, we are looking after Taliban, but we have to look after the eastern border (with India), also. So, the thoughts are divided…. You analyse your threat wherever it is coming from, whether it is Taliban or Indians, and take balanced action.”

Musharraf dismissed as “absolutely baseless, and absolutely wrong” reports that the Pakistani military still views many of Taliban militants as being useful in launching guerrilla operations, potentially in Kashmir and against Afghanistan.

But Pakistan’s Inter-Services intelligence did have contacts with the Taliban, he said. “Yes. Yes, indeed. After all, the KGB had contacts in CIA. CIA had contacts in KGB. …So, ISI also is an intelligence organization.

They do exactly what CIA does or RAW does in India.”

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