Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was not a terrorist, but a sensitive person who cared for the Muslim Umma and what was happening to them in the post-9/11 period, said Pakistan’s former Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt.Gen. (Retired) Hamid Gul.
In an interview given to Dunya News, Lt. Gen. Gul did not admit, but said that if the accusation by the U.S.that Pakistan, and specifically the ISI, had supported Osama bin Laden and his terror activities, which eventually resulted in the launching of the global war on terror in the last few months of 2001, then it is a feather in the ISI’s cap.
“If that was the case, it proves that the ISI is a successful organisation, and we do not see Osama bin Laden as a terrorist,” said Lt. Gen. Gul.
Gul also described Taliban leader Mullah Omar as Pakistan’s “trump card”.
“If we (Pakistan) did not have influence with the Afghan Taliban, do you think that the United States would be asking Pakistan to mediate with the Afghan Taliban for the post-2014 scenario. Instead, they would be talking to India, “ he said.
“I am repeatedly telling you that Pakistan is at an important stage in history and we need to use and play to our strengths. India is on the wrong side of geography and history,” he added.
Lt. Gen. Gul further said that fencing along the Line of Control (LoC) that separates Pakistan and India should be torn down immediately, and criticised Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on what he termed his pro-India stance and utterrances.
“Instead, Sharif is keeping quiet, while our (Pakistan) soldiers are being killed,” he said in apparent reference to the recent alleged ceasefire violations by India along the LoC.
He questioned the need for Sharif to say that Pakistan and India have the same culture.
“That is absolute rubbish. India worships the cow and we eat its meat,” he said while pointedly highlighting the differences between the two countries.
When it was pointed out to him that Sharif has the mandate of the people of Pakistan to look for ways to establish and enhance peace with India, Lt. Gen. Gul outrightly rejected this by asking: “Who gave him (Nawaz Sharif) this mandate? This is a lie. Pakistan never voted Nawaz Sharif into office for him to put Kashmir on the backburner, and to promote ties with India.
“He (Nawaz Sharif) cannot ignore the core issue of Kashmir. The Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) has a legitimate right to pick up arms against India. It is their freedom struggle,” he concluded.