US pullout from Afghanistan would be ‘disastrous’: Musharraf

October 5th, 2009 - 8:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Pervez Musharraf By Arun Kumar
Washington, Oct 5 (IANS) Former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf says it would be “disastrous” for the United States to pull out of Afghanistan now, according to a media report.

The Americans need to prepare for the likelihood that more US troops will be needed in Afghanistan and that they will be there many years, he told Des Moines Register in Iowa.

If the Taliban are allowed to return to power, he said, they surely would allow Al Qaida terrorists to rebuild strength in Afghanistan, destabilising the region and posing a major threat to the US.

The only solution, Musharraf was quoted as saying, is for international troops, led by the US, to establish military dominance in Afghanistan and gain the trust of people there, so a long-term political solution can be formed.

Musharraf, the Des Moines Register said. waved off questions about how long it would take to stabilise Afghanistan.

“May I suggest we forget about talking about timing,” he said. “We need to obtain objectives…When we lay down timing, it becomes very counterproductive.”

Musharraf said Americans should not equate the situation in Afghanistan with the beginnings of the Vietnam War. The Vietnam conflict was a local problem, which posed no direct threat to the US, he said. “This is different,” he said.

“This will engulf the whole region and have effects on the world. So I think defeat or a negative outcome in Afghanistan will have far more far-reaching consequences than you could have in Vietnam. Therefore, I think quitting is not an option.”

When asked whether he believes Osama bin Laden is alive and hiding in Pakistan’s mountains, Musharraf replied: “Your guess is as good or as bad as mine.”

However, he said, bin Laden is no longer running a highly organised international terrorism operation. “Al Qaida is more a symbol now.”

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