A senior former ally of President Pervez Musharraf claimed America and Britain’s “failure” in Afghanistan sparked a wave of violence in Pakistan.
“The West has failed in Afghanistan and so has shifted the blame to Pakistan,” Lt-Gen Orakzai, told The Daily Telegraph in his first interview since resigning earlier this year as governor of the restive North West Frontier province.
Gen Orakzai said US demands for Pakistan “to do more, more and more” had led to the military bombing its own citizens in the border tribal areas, and prompting a “war of resistance”.
He added the threat posed by al-Qa’eda in the tribal areas had been “greatly exaggerated” by the West, and the military strikes had caused many innocent deaths and a lot of collateral damage.
“There was a lot of resentment… people wanted revenge for the loss of their loved ones. It snowballed.”
Gen Orakzai, a Pushtun from the tribal areas, was reportedly asked to resign as governor after brokering a controversial peace agreement in North Waziristan.
US officials said the deal had led to a threefold increase in cross-border infiltration of militants from Pakistan to Afghanistan and allegedly leant on Mr Musharraf to remove him.
“Nobody has said don’t fight terrorism. But if the US keeps asking us to do more, Pakistan will be in a critical position,” said Gen Orakzai. “So leave us alone for some time and let us give a political solution a chance.”
His remarks came amid increasing US concerns Pakistan’s counter-terrorism co-operation may wane as the new coalition government looks set to clip the power of Washington’s ally, Mr Musharraf, or possibly oust him.
Asif Ali Zardari, the co-chairman of the senior coalition partner, the Pakistan’s People’s Party, and Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister, have both stated the new government would “redefine” Pakistan’s stance on the US-led “war on terror”.
Mr Musharraf’s support for the US-led campaign has been deeply unpopular and the new government of prime minister Yusf Raza Gilani has pledged to reach a national consensus on how to deal with tribal militants.
A sullen-faced Mr Musharraf swore in Mr Gilani, an aide of the late Benazir Bhutto whom he once jailed for five years on trumped-up political charges. Supporters chanted “Long Live Bhutto” as the new prime minister repeated the oath.