LAHORE - Defence Minister Khwaja Muhammad Asif started a new controversy on Tuesday by saying that the 1980 fight against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was not Jehad.
“Jehad cannot be launched with CIA funds,” he said in an interview to a TV channel.
Referring to Islamabad’s role in the said fight, the minister said, “We were used as tool both religiously and politically in the so-called Jehad.”
It may be recalled that the decision to resist the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan had been taken by then CMLA-president Gen Ziaul Haq, and the defence minister’s father Khwaja Muhammad Safdar was chairman of the then nominated parliament called Shoora.
The defence minister said that the tragedy of 9/11 and then military takeover by Gen Musharraf were the outcome of the policy pursued by Pakistan after the Soviet invasion.
According to him, the West today branded as misguided the elements it regarded as Jehadis then.
To counter these elements, he said, the West is now raising a new “brand” under the leadership of Dr Tahirul Qadri. The change in the mindset of the new brand should be seen in this context, the minister said. He said the lifestyle of the Qadri group and their travel in the First Class even when they were in dozens called for investigations.
Replying to a question, the minister said the army is not with Dr Tahirul Qadri and there were no takers for the calls he was making on Monday. He said some people might be trying to “sell” themselves to the army, but there are no buyers for them.
Referring to the support being extended by Chaudhry Shujaat Husain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi to the PAT chief, the minister said it was just bankruptcy. He said one of them had been the prime minister and the other the deputy premier and it was unbecoming of the two to be seen with Dr Qadri the way they were being seen.
In response to a question about the diversion of Dr Qadri’s plane from Islamabad to Lahore, the minister said the step was permissible in certain situations under the Aviation Laws. Even the pilot was empowered to take such a decision, he said.
The minister said the prime minister and the army chief had harmony of thought on security matters.