Washington : Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has made the explosive disclosure that the Pakistani army and ISI trained al-Qaida and other terrorist groups to fight in Afghanistan.
Although it has long been known that the Pakistani military trained the so-called mujaheddin that fought Soviet troops in Afghanistan under CIA tutelage, it is the first time that any Pakistani leader has directly and specifically confirmed the Pakistan military and intelligence agency trained al -Qaida — which is largely a post-Soviet withdrawal entity — and continued to maintain links with the group.
Al-Qaida was founded in 1988 by Osama bin Laden even as Soviet troops were leaving Afghanistan. Specifically, al-Qaida was formed in Peshawar, Pakistan on August 11, 1988. Soviet troops started to leave Afghanistan on May 15, 1988 and the withdrawal continued till February 2, 1989. Khan said the Pakistani military continued to have links with them even though the US too quit the scene.
“There were always links between Pakistan and …there had to be links … because they trained them,” Khan said at a meeting at the Center for Foreign Relations in New York City on Monday when asked about whether Pakistan had gotten to the bottom of how Osama bin Laden had ended up in a Pakistani military cantonment.
Khan also said when Pakistan did a 180 degree turn against the terrorists after 9/11 and went after them, not everyone in the Pakistan military agreed with it, resulting in insider attacks against General Musharraf. Any contacts with Osama bin Laden at the time he was killed by US Navy Seals in Abbottabad would have been at lower levels, Khan surmised.
Khan’s startling move implicating the Pakistani military in New York, where he is on a “Mission Kashmir” aimed at portraying India as the aggressor, embarrassed some of his countrymen, one of whom ad-libbed the country Army chief as saying, “damn, he’s an even more dangerous duffer than we are.”
Pakistan has tried for years to terror tag India by building up files and dossiers alleging New Delhi’s role in purported terrorist acts in Balochistan, but the country’s jihad mill has continued to produce terrorist graduates, one of whom, son of an Air Vice Marshal, tried to bomb Times Square, a few blocks from where Khan was speaking. Other terrorists trained or indoctrinated in Pakistan have carried out attacks from Manhattan to Mumbai.
Still, President Trump gave Pakistan cover on Monday when he was asked at a press conference with Imran Khan if agreed with Prime Minister Modi’s assessment that Pakistan is the hub of terrorism. “Well, I really have been pointing much more to Iran. I mean, Iran if you look at what, that’s been really the state of terror,” Trump said, much to the relief of Pakistan, where not only did the key principals of 9/11 (Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed) live, but some of the 19 hijackers who slammed the weaponised planes into World Trade Center also went in and out of.
Helpfully for Trump, US and rest of the international community, Imran Khan has confirmed that the Pakistani military trained al-Qaida.
Source : TOI