Two former chiefs of the Inter-Services Intelligence have rejected as 'baseless' a statement by President Pervez Musharraf about former officials of the agency abetting Taliban.
The Dawn newspaper quoted former ISI chiefs Asad Durrani and Hameed Gul as saying that there was no need to issue such a speculative statement.
President Pervez Musharraf had said on Sunday that some retired Inter-Services Intelligence officials could be assisting Taliban insurgents.
"We are keeping a very tight watch and we will get hold of them if that happened at all," Musharraf had said in an interview with NBC Television's Meet the Press, which was recorded before he left for the United States.
Musharraf had said he had a 'few reports that some dissidents and some retired people who were in the forefront in ISI during the period of 1979 to 1989 may be assisting the links somewhere here and there'.
But Durrani said he was at a loss to understand the need for issuing such a statement. "It would not serve any interest of Pakistan," he said.
He said some people in their individual capacity might have associated themselves with the Taliban, but it was improper to make such a statement without any concrete evidence.
He said the statement was highly speculative and it was astonishing to see it coming from the head of the state who was under oath to protect the interests of the country.
Gul said former officers of the ISI were not involved in helping Taliban. He said the Taliban surfaced in 1994, some five years after his tenure as ISI chief was over and about three years after his retirement from the army.
He said Musharraf was a distinct type of team captain who was scoring goals against his own team by accusing his own people. The nation was astonished to see the captain hell-bent to see his own team's defeat, he said.
Gul said no Afghan leader, including President Hamid Karzai, had levelled such an allegation.
He said, "Perhaps the situation in Afghanistan had boggled Gen Musharraf as the defeat of United States' interests in the country was visible. We pray for the success of Taliban. If it is tantamount to helping someone, I do it everyday for the Afghan nation as I am a friend of the Afghanistan."
He said it was his desire to see the pullout of US forces from Afghanistan, which would be in the interest of both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
He recalled that Musharraf had also expressed his desire for a limited stay of US forces in Afghanistan.
He said retired officers of the ISI could not help Taliban. There was no dearth of weapons with Taliban as they had kalashnikovs, machine guns and rocket launchers in large numbers, he claimed.
They did not need training as they had been in war for 27 years and they were experienced enough now to deal with their enemies, he said.
Gul added that the opium trade was at its peak in Afghanistan with the blessings of US generals and businessmen. He said opium cultivation in the country this year was expected to cross 6,000 tons, while it had dropped to 185 tons in the last days of the Taliban rule.