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Pakistan NSA ‘warns’ of second 9/11 if West doesn’t recognise Taliban, then says ‘misquoted’

Pakistan NSA Moeed Yusuf says interview in UK’s Sunday Times is 'gross mischaracterisation' of his conversation with journalist Christina Lamb. She says ‘interviews recorded’.

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New Delhi: Pakistan National Security Adviser (NSA) Moeed Yusuf has asked British newspaper The Sunday Times to clarify and retract his interview with journalist Christina Lamb, in which he allegedly warned that the West risks a second 9/11 situation if it doesn’t “immediately recognise” the Taliban. Lamb has denied Yusuf’s allegation of “mischaracterisation”, saying the interview was recorded.

A statement from Yusuf’s office Sunday said the 28 August interview, titled “Work with the Taliban or Repeat the Horror of the 1990s, West Told”, is a “gross mischaracterisation” of the conversation that took place between Yusuf and Lamb.

A formal demand for the story to be retracted and clarified has been sent to the newspaper by the Pakistan High Commission in the UK, the statement added.

An award-winning journalist, Lamb is the chief foreign correspondent for The Sunday Times.

In the Times interview, Yusuf is quoted as saying: “Mark my words…If the mistakes of the Nineties are made again and Afghanistan abandoned, the outcome will be absolutely the same — a security vacuum filled by undesirable elements who will threaten everyone, Pakistan and the West.”

In his statement, Yusuf has expressed objection to the sub-title of the article, which reads, “Risk a second 9/11 if you don’t recognise Afghanistan’s new leaders, Pakistan’s national security adviser warns”. “This connotation was fabricated and total wrongly attributed to the National Security Adviser,” the statement adds.

The article was published on the same day that the UK’s last military flight left Kabul after evacuating over 15,000 people in the two weeks since the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan.

The situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate in light of the Taliban takeover, with just the last few days bringing two terrorist attacks at the Kabul airport, and a US drone strike that killed a suicide car bomber suspected to be planning another attack on the airport.

Also read: The mystery of how Pakistan gets away each time

‘Release the recording’

According to the Pakistan NSA, Lamb conducted the interview on record at his office in Islamabad on 27 August and at no point did he state that the West should “immediately recognise” the Taliban nor was there any “warning” of a second 9/11 linked to formal “recognition” of the Taliban, as the article suggests. He urged Lamb to release the entire recording.

Following the NSA’s denial of the comments, several Twitter users criticised Yusuf, with some coming to Lamb’s defence.

“Knowing him a little closely, the problem with him is there is no coordination between his mind and tongue. He has to deny what he says in recorded interviews,” wrote Arif Jamal, author of Call For Transnational Jihad: Lashkar-e-Taiba 1985-2014.

Another user, claiming to be associated with the Awami Workers Party in Islamabad, expressed shock over the report.

Meanwhile, West Asia analyst Kyle Orton criticised Yusuf as “now demanding the West recognise the jihadists his country just installed in Kabul”.

Praveen Swami, Group Consulting Editor with Indian media organisation Network18, suggested the NSA “learn how to prepare properly for interviews” from the Taliban.

Sky News report

While Yusuf denied making comparisons to 9/11 in the interview to The Sunday Times, the Pakistan NSA appeared to make similar claims in an interview to British channel Sky News Sunday. 

Titled “The West could face another 9/11 and mass refugee crisis if it abandons country, says Pakistan security adviser”, the Sky News interview quoted him as saying: “Migrants will flow, terrorism will flow and none of us want that so let’s not make that mistake again”.

He added: “The dangers of abandonment, which came about in the 1990s, there was a breakdown of law and order, there was a breakdown of security, there were international terrorists who took root, there was an economic crisis, there was a governance problem and at the end of the day there was 9/11.”

(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)

Also read: With Taliban return, question for India — will infrastructure investments amount to anything


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