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I love jihad: Nawaz Sharif to Osama

Harish Dugh

Posted: Jun 23, 2005 at 1447 hrs IST

In a revelation that is not so much surprising as it is terrifying a former Pakistan secret service Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) man, Khalid Khawaja has laid bare its top leaders' tight embrace with terrorism going back decades.

Khawaja, who acquired a kind of notoriety under late-General Zia ul-Haq who ruled Pakistan as its President from 1978, said that former civilian Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif asked for money from Osama bin Laden, but refused indirect contact and pressed for a meeting with the man the United States accuses of masterminding the 9/11 World Trade Centre's twin towers' destruction, that killed more than 3,000 people.

Pakistan's Daily Times said Khawaja arranged the meeting and, Nawaz actually met Osama on three separate occasions - what the other topics discussed were (other than money), has not been divulged.

What Khawaja has done is indicate that not only the Pakistan Army, its civilian politicians too are involved in promoting terror in the world.

Not that Khawaja is a dove. He is known widely for defending bin Laden, calling him an 'angel' and saying the US is accusing the wrong man for the carnage in America. He was also fired by Zia for being 'outspoken'.

Talking to Asia Times Online, Khawaja said when Zia died in a plane crash in 1988 and elections were announced, the likelihood of Pakistan People's Party chief Benazir Bhutto becoming Prime Minister were great. However, this would not be in the interest of the Mujaheddin fighting the USSR in Afghanistan, whom the Pak army was supplying weapons and giving shelter on behalf of US.

Mujaheddin leadership then decided to try and prevent Bhutto from winning, as she was seen as too soft to carry on the proxy war in Afghanistan, and towards that end an Islamic Demoratic Alliance was forged between Pakistan's Muslim League and Jamaat-e-Islami.

Khawaja says that Osama financed the move against Bhutto. This money Khawaja then handed to Nawaz, the Chief Minister of Punjab.

However, Nawaz wanted to meet Osama in person and this was arranged in Saudi Arabia town of Medina at Green Palace Hotel.

In one of the meetings Osama reportedly asked Nawaz to devote himself to jihad. Nawaz replied, 'I love jihad'. Unimpressed, Osama stood up and pointing to a pillar in the room said, "Yes, you may love jihad, but your love for jihad is this much," indicating a very small part of the pillar. 'Your love for your children is this much," pointing to a larger portion. "And your love for your parents is this much," he continued, pointing towards the largest portion. "I agree that you love jihad, but this love is the smallest in proportion to your other affections in life."

However, to Osama's dismay the argument went over Nawaz Sharif's head.

Khawaja revealed that Osama gave Nawaz just a minuscule of the Rs 500 million cash that he wanted, but more importantly, for the Pakistani, what he received in kind proved to a virtual windfall. Through Osama, Nawaz met with the members of the Saudi royal family who helped him when General Pervez Musharraf effected a coup in Pakistan in 1999 against Nawaz. Saudi Arabia played the major role in getting him released from a Pak prison and granted him asylum - reportedly after paying a huge ransom.

Besides the fact that Pakistan establishment has deep terror links, this is a warning to US not to promote aggressive individuals, train them militarily besides funding them. Because, these very individuals have grown so strong that they actually attacked US. Osama was the creation of America to fight USSR in Afghanistan, Iraq's Saddam Hussein was supplied with finances and weapons by America to fight against Iran. Both went on to bite the hand that fed them.

What Khawaja's revelations have exposed is something that India has been telling the world unceasingly for decades. The only thing this new case does is cement India's argument that Pakistan is unofficially promoting terror in India and also in other parts of the world and that till the leadership, across ideologies, is not brought to task, innocent people will continue to die in wanton acts of terror.

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