Pervez Musharraf has admitted that his country trained militants for a dozen terror outfits including the Lashkar-e-Taiba. The former Pakistani president claimed Pakistan's governments actively supported terrorists in order to foment militancy in Indian-controlled Kashmir, which is at the heart of its dispute with its larger nuclear-armed neighbour.
"The Kashmiri freedom fighters including Hafiz Saeed and [Zakiur Rehman] Lakhvi were our heroes at that time. Later on the religious militancy turned into terrorism. Now they [referring to terrorists in Pakistan] are killing their own people here and this should be controlled and stopped," Musharraf told the Pakistani television channel Dunya News in an interview aired on Sunday (25 October).
Musharraf, who masterminded the Kargil infiltration that brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war in 1999, said: "In 1990s the freedom struggle began in Kashmir...At that time Lashkar-e-Taiba and 11 or 12 other organisations were formed. We supported them and trained them as they were fighting in Kashmir at the cost of their lives."
However, when he was asked if he wanted Saeed and Lakhvi to be controlled or stopped, he said, "No comments."
Musharraf said "religious militancy" was nurtured by Pakistan to fight Soviet forces in the late 1970s. Pakistan attracted militants from all over the world for a jihad against Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
"We trained Taliban and sent them to fight against Russia. Taliban, (Maulvi Jalaluddin) Haqqani, Osama Bin Laden and (al-Qaeda's Ayman) Zawahiri were our heroes then. Later they became villains," he revealed.
The comments by the former military dictator could embarrass Pakistan more as they come weeks after former defence minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar revealed that the country's military and government were aware that 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden was hiding on its soil. Pakistan's government continues to deny it knew of Bin Laden's whereabouts.