The U.S.-led war in Afghanistan is a "lost cause," said a former Pakistani intelligence chief, and the United States needs to negotiate peace with Taliban leader Mullah Omar. "You have to talk to him, and I'm sure it will work out very well," Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul told CNN's Fareed Zakaria in an interview to air Sunday.
U.S. intelligence documents published last week by WikiLeaks cited Gul and implicated Pakistani intelligence as supporting al Qaeda. Gul has denied the allegations. "I'm quite a convenient scapegoat," he said. "I don't support any one faction in Afghanistan. I support the Afghan nation."
The career military officer, who supported the U.S.-backed Taliban resistance against Soviet occupation during the 1980s, called the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan "unjust" and said he sees legitimacy in the Afghan insurgency against Western forces. "This is a national resistance movement. It should be recognized as such," he said. "They are Mujahedeen of Afghanistan as they were during the occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union."
The attacks of September 11 were a pretext to a war already under consideration, Gul said. "I think some of the neocons, who were very close to President [George W.] Bush, they wanted that he could embark on a universal adventure of Pax Americana, and they thought that the world was lying prostrate in front of them," he said. The 2001 terrorist attacks helped win the public support for the neocon plans, he said.
There was no legitimate reason for the United States to attack Afghanistan, Gul said, because the FBI had no solid evidence that Osama bin Laden was involved in the attacks on New York and Washington. "Why has not a single individual connected to 9/11 been caught in America so far, and why hasn't Osama bin Laden been charged?" With no evidence anyone in Afghanistan was involved, there is no way to legitimize the U.S. occupation, Gul said.
The hunt for al-Qaeda does not justify the almost 9-year-old war either, because the global terrorist movement has moved on, Gul said. "The American strategists, the military thinkers, have got to wake up to the reality that al-Qaeda has succeeded in exhausting, drawing out into the wrong direction, to the wrong place, all the allied forces," Gul said, citing Yemen, Somalia and Africa. "For al-Qaeda the center of gravity all along was the Middle East."
The United States and its allies won't win the war in Afghanistan, said Gul, who referred to U.S. NATO allies as "pallbearers." Supply lines through Pakistan are shaky, said Gul, who blamed U.S. ally India for contributing to his country's destabilization. Combined with what Gul termed poor U.S. intelligence and a home-field advantage for the Taliban, it all adds up to a losing combination for the United States in his estimate. "Time is on the side of the resistance," he said.
"In such a situation, to hope to win would be absolutely hare-brained," Gul said. He expressed concern the U.S. military would never be willing to admit defeat. "I would advise President Obama - please, do not listen to your military, because militaries have [the] unfortunate tendency never to accept their defeat. They will say if we receive more proceeds, if we receive more logistics, if we receive more funds, then we will be able to overcome. This is a psychological problem."
The only solution would be peace negotiations with Taliban leader Mullah Omar, not with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Gul concluded. "There is only one man who can give the guarantee that there will be no terrorism exported from Afghanistan," Gul said. "Don't talk to Karzai; he's a puppet."
Omar represents the entire insurgency, Gul said. "There are other factions of resistance fighters coming under the banner of Mullah Omar." Scale down goals, negotiate with Omar, then move on and out of Afghanistan, was Gul's advice to the United States.