Washington, Oct 20 (ANI): The United States may have been able to avoid its long hunt for the world's most wanted terrorist and Al-Qaeda's top leadership, Osama bin Laden, if it had recognized Afghanistan's Taliban regime, Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf has stated.
"The world did not recognize them and we were being reprimanded for doing that," the Dawn quoted Musharraf, as saying at the Asia Society's Texas Center in Houston.
The APML founder, who is trying to stage a political comeback in Pakistan, is in support of holding talks with the "moderate Taliban" to find a settlement in Afghanistan where US-led forces have been fighting for more than nine years.
Although Pakistan was the chief supporter of the Taliban regime, which imposed a rigid brand of Islam over most of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, Musharraf reversed his course overnight following the 9/11 attacks, the paper said.
"I always proposed that we need to have a different strategy. We need to recognize the Taliban and try to change them from within," the former president stated.
"Had we had 18 missions there, including the US mission, with the Taliban, I think we could have saved the Buddha statue and maybe we could have resolved this Osama bin Laden tangle. (It) may not have erupted, even," he added.
Months ahead of the September 11 attacks, the Taliban had defied global pressure and demolished the world-famous 1500-year-old statues of the Bamiyan Buddha, declaring them of violating the tenets of Islam.
In the wake of Afghan President Hamid Karzai setting up a peace council to open up dialogue with the Taliban to broker peace in Afghanistan, Musharraf sounded a note of vindication, as he pointed out how he was accused of "double-dealing" when he had advocated negotiations with the Taliban after the regime was toppled.
"The difference between now and then is now we are trying to do this from a position of weakness," Musharraf noted.
Pakistan has long faced US criticism for maintaining contact with Afghanistan's Taliban, what US analysts believe is a strategy by Islamabad to ensure it maintains influence on its neighbour.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the only countries other than Pakistan that ever recognized the Taliban as Afghanistan's government. (ANI)