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Musharraf terms as 'mistake' past deals with Taliban

Last updated: 16 May, 2009
Islamabad, PTI: 14:32 IST

As Pakistani army stepped up its offensive against Taliban in the troubled northwest, former President Pervez Musharraf has said the past deals between the government and militants were "a mistake" as Islamabad had not finalised them "from a position of strength".

The deals with the Taliban several years ago that allowed the militants some power were a mistake, Musharraf told CNN.

The former army chief said that those deals were not finalised "from a position of strength" by Pakistan.

But if military is able to take the upper hand, more deals may be needed to calm fighting by the extremists, he said.
Any deal, Musharraf said, would require the Taliban in Pakistan not to support al-Qaeda or go into Afghanistan to fight against US and coalition troops.

"I think the line of going for political deals, political compromises, is correct," he said in yet-to-be broadcast comments. "We must do it -- even if we are doubtful of some of the people involved in the signing."

Asked if President Asif Ali Zardari had the public backing needed to fight the Taliban, Musharraf suggested he did not.
"Democratically, he's elected by two-thirds (majority in Parliament). And these are the people who are the representatives of the same people you're talking of -- 19 per cent in favour ... ," he said, referring to a recent poll that showed Zardari had the backing of just 19 per cent Pakistanis. "So, there's a dichotomy. You can analyse it yourself," he said.

His comments came amid Pakistani military operations in the restive nortwest, including the Swat valley, where thousands of Taliban militants are holed up and are offering stiff resisitance.

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