Ex-ISI chief sees civil war in Pakistan after US Afghan pullout

Updated 22 March 2013
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Ex-ISI chief sees civil war in Pakistan after US Afghan pullout

Gen. Hamid Gul, a former chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan and one of the architects of “Afghan Jihad” possesses a rich knowledge about Pakistan’s politics and its relationship with Afghanistan. In a wide-ranging interview with Urdu News, he spoke about the ramifications of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan for the neighboring countries and the Muslim world. The pullout will have a major impact on Pakistan that may even lead to civil war, Gul said adding the withdrawal will create a vacuum where some miscreants will take advantage of the situation.
“Pakistan being the immediate neighbor will have to bear the brunt. The Arab Spring has sprung many surprises and after sweeping Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria it may now be happening in Jordan,” Gul said. He said Al-Qaeda has been the main beneficiary of the Arab Spring and has grown stronger.
About the role the GCC countries can play in the current situation, Gul said GCC countries and Pakistan should forge closer relationship. He said Americans are working to normalize relations with Iran but at the same time they are trying to drive a wedge between Iran and GCC countries.
“Muslims should realize that they are not weak, they are strong. They have oil and other resources. The situation now is in favor of Muslims and not the West. After the US pullout from Afghanistan, NATO will disintegrate as an entity.”
Gul said the Muslim world has suffered a lot due to the war on terror and now it is time for Muslims to take serious decisions.
He said Muslim countries should fill the vacuum in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US troops and work for the development of the country. Gul suggested that Muslim countries should form an institution more effective and powerful than the OIC. This organization should not only pass resolutions but should also have the authority and the means to get these resolutions implemented. Muslims should give the international community a new socio-economic world order. This was done by the Prophet (peace be upon him) 1,400 years ago and following him the Muslim world can unite and do it.
Regarding the Abbottabad Commission that is probing Osama Bin Laden’s issue, Gul said it is a fact that Osama had not been living in the Abbottabad compound since long, his family members were there. He said the operation was carried out with the cooperation from Pakistan. He refused to say who cooperated.
Speaking about the Indian role in Afghanistan, the former ISI chief said India is responsible for the worsening situation in the region. He said Israel is backing India and both enjoy the backing of the US. India wants its hegemony in the region and Americans think that after withdrawal from Afghanistan, China and Russia will get the benefits so it is backing India.
About the situation in Balochistan, Gul said it is getting from bad to worse. He also said that drone attacks were aimed at weakening Pakistan to pave the way for a greater plan.
“GCC countries can play a role in convincing India that better relations with Pakistan is in its interest.”
About talks with Taleban, Gul said they would be fruitless if held under the American agenda.
The Afghans are capable of handling their own issues. Pakistan should not meddle in their affairs. World peace depends on peace in Afghanistan.
About the presence of Al-Qaeda, Gul said very few Al-Qaeda members were in Pakistan. Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri had moved to Yemen already, he said.
Speaking about the pre-election situation in Pakistan, the former ISI chief said there could be law and order issue as the army has refused to guarantee security at all polling stations. He said security in the country worsened during the five years of democracy and only a revolution can change things. Gul felt that the Western democratic system was a failure for Pakistan. “During the tenure of the democratic government, economy has been destroyed,” Gul said.
About the Iran issue, Gul said Pakistan and GCC countries should sit together to settle row with Tehran. “The enemy is trying to drive a wedge between Iran and the GCC countries, we should not let this happen,” he said. He suggested that a GCC country should also have a nuclear bomb to keep the balance of power in the region.


Half of Aquarius migrants ‘seek asylum in France’: Spanish govt

Updated 44 min 44 sec ago
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Half of Aquarius migrants ‘seek asylum in France’: Spanish govt

MADRID: Almost half of the 630 migrants that were rescued from the Mediterranean and arrived in Spain’s port of Valencia at the weekend want to seek asylum in France, the Spanish government said Monday.
The migrants arrived in Spain on Sunday in three vessels, including the rescue ship Aquarius, after being turned away by Italy and Malta last week.
“Almost half the migrants have shown their willingness to seek asylum in France, which offered to welcome some of the people traveling on the ship,” Spain’s new socialist government said in a statement.
The majority of the 630 migrants are from Africa, including 450 men and 80 women, of which at least seven are pregnant, as well as 89 adolescents and 11 children under the age of 13, according to the Valencia authorities.
The Aquarius, run by French charity SOS Mediterranee, rescued them off Libya’s coast on June 9 and Italy and Malta’s refusal to let the ship dock led to an international outcry before Spain stepped in to help.
Madrid on Saturday said it had accepted an offer from France — who had angered Rome by branding it irresponsible — to welcome Aquarius migrants who “meet the criteria for asylum.”
France will examine asylum requests from Aquarius migrants who want to come over from Spain on a “case-by-case basis,” government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said Sunday, adding it was “impossible” to know how many will arrive.


Pascal Brice, director-general of France’s refugee protection office Ofpra, told AFP that one of his teams would travel to Valencia soon.
“As soon as the Spanish authorities have informed us of the number of people concerned, a team from Ofpra will go on site to conduct the interviews and ensure that people are covered by the right to asylum,” he said, adding that the process should take place this week.
Local leaders on the French island of Corsica had offered to welcome the Aquarius, but the move was slapped down by the central government, which argued that under international law the ship had to dock at the closest port.
A majority of the French public, 56 percent, back the government’s decision, an opinion poll released Monday showed.
In Spain the migrants were granted authorization to remain in the country for 45 days while each individual’s legal case is studied.
Those who file a demand for asylum will be able to stay in the country while immigration services consider their request, a process that takes up to six months, said Paloma Favieres of the Spanish Commission for Refugees (CEAR).