London, Feb.23 (ANI): A top agent for the Pakistani intelligence agency, the ISI, Colonel Imam, who also recruited, trained and armed almost every one of Afghanistan's prominent insurgents and warlords during the 1980s, has only words of praise for Taliban chief Mullah Omar.
He describes his relationship with Mullah Omar, the Taleban's fugitive leader, as his closest.
"He's a very wise man. The peace of his nation is a supreme requirement but . . . it can only come with the liberation of the area. He should stick to that. He has no means to throw the Americans out but he can tire the Americans," The Times quotes Colonel Imam, as saying.
"[The Taleban] will not be tired. They are used to it. They are fighting addicts who will be happy to keep fighting. America will be tired ultimately. They are already tired. They may get tired like the Soviet Union," he adds.
Colonel Imam, now 65, is scathing about both the US military surge and Britain's initiative to buy off biddable Taleban elements.
"Every senior officer knows it is a mistake to reinforce the error, to put more fuel on the fire of failure. And the bribe strategy is a shameless job for the British. Gordon Brown devised it. It's wrong and dirty. It might have been effective in 2002, 2003, not today," he says.
He insisted that only direct dialogue between the Afghan authorities and Mullah Omar himself, without the interference of the Americans, could end the conflict - along with the withdrawal of Nato forces.
"Dialogue is the deadliest weapon against them ... [The Afghans] should compromise on their stances and the occupation forces should say goodbye. But they should rehabilitate as they go, so that people don't remember them as enemies," Colonel Imam said.
Key to the strategy outlined by Colonel Imam was the fate of al-Qaeda. "If he's given a free hand Mullah Omar will be able to harness the al-Qaeda people," he suggested.
"He wouldn't want to pollute the situation. He will segregate them and he'll see what should be their disposal. No other leader can do it," he added.
Colonel Imam, whose real name is Amir Sultan Tarar, was chosen for the job of running Mujahidin training and operations by the ISI because of his skills and US military experience. At one time he had 200 specialist staff who put as many as 95,000 Mujahidin through US-funded camps during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.
It was in one of these camps in 1985 that he met Mullah Omar. He and his comrades were being taught the skills of insurgency and being trained in bomb making, ambush techniques and intelligence gathering.
Colonel Imam insists that he has not seen the Taleban's supreme leader since the autumn of 2001, as American bombs dropped on Kandahar.
"The bombing started and I was recalled back [to Pakistan]. I said goodbye to him and said, 'If you want I can remain with you'. He said, 'No, go back and pray for us'. I'm praying for hem." (ANI)