Musharraf advises US not to ignore Pakistan

DUBAI: Former President Pervez Musharraf has advised United States of America (USA) not to ignore Pakistan in era of radicalization of societies around the world. He wished with smiling face that he would have rung up and told George W. Bush this if he was the president now.

Pervez Musharraf was addressing at the South Asia Rising 2017 conference which began yesterday in Dubai. Eisenhower Fellows from South Asia hosted the South Asia Rising 2017 conference in the light of critical issues of the region.

The former military ruler said Pakistan could play a crucial role in eradicating terrorism. He further added that to blame Pakistan for ‘supporting’ terrorism is wrong. Referring to Pakistan’s cooperation with US for war in Afghanistan, Pervez Musharraf reminded the audience that Pakistan had been asked by the US and Western world to introduce ‘Jihad’ and impart training to ‘Mujahideen’ in 80s and ‘Taliban’ during 90s. He raised the question that why is only Pakistan now being blamed for militancy problems.

Pervez Musharraf said the US coalition forces in Afghanistan had defeated ‘Al-Qaeda’ and ‘Taliban’ but, he added, ‘unfortunately’ the military victory could not be transformed into political victory in Afghanistan so the militancy has sprung up again in the region.

He was very critical of “Indian interference” in Pakistan and regretted on the proxies in the region. The former president warned that South Asia would not rise economically if the region especially Pakistan and India did not move forward to resolve their ‘stumbling’ issues. Referring to Indian refusal to participate in South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit that was scheduled to be held in Pakistan in November 2016, Pervez Musharraf said that politicisation of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) is so much regrettable especially by India.

While talking about his tenure as the President of Pakistan, Musharraf said he had reduced the budget for the army, going against the wishes of the force. He also spoke about issues in South Asia, saying countries in the region should improve in the sectors of information technology, banking and foreign exchange. There is also a need to address the conflict between Pakistan and India, he stressed.

During the first day of the South Asia Rising 2017, Pervez Musharraf was the center of attention among Arabs, South Asians and Africans’ guests and participants of the conference. He was the only former head of state to address the forum.

The purpose of South Asia Rising 2017 conference is to exchange views and ideas through increased collaboration and to eventually create a cross-national dialogue between policy makers and influential leaders to help solve issues that remain prevalent in the region.

The conference is the third of its kind, with the first two conferences on the region previously held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in 2006 and 2012.

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