Political Investments of Osama and Co.

Daily Times, March 21, 2006
Nawaz met Osama, received funds: ex-ISI officer
* Says Osama funded Sharif to help dismiss PPP govt
* Calls Bin Laden a ‘great man’

Daily Times Monitor

LAHORE: A former official of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) has said that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif met Osama Bin Laden and received funds from him.

“Nawaz Sharif met Osama Bin Laden on at least three occasions and was desperately seeking his financial assistance,” Khalid Khawaja told news website Adnkronos International (AKI) in an interview on Sunday.

Khawaja, a retired officer of the Pakistan Air Force who was in the ISI in the late 80s, rejected a recent denial by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz that its leader had sought political cooperation from Bin Laden in the last. “Osama is above all this politicking,” said Khawaja. “He is a great man and will remain great.”

Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal President Qazi Hussain Ahmed had said in a recent interview that Sharif had repeatedly met Bin Laden, who had offered him money to topple the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government in 1990.

Khawaja, who developed a friendship with Bin Laden while fighting against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 80s, told AKI that the Al Qaeda head wanted the “secular” PPP government overthrown to ensure that Pakistan continued supporting the Afghan “jihad”. Khawaja said that Bin Laden gave him funds which he personally delivered to Sharif, AKI reported. “Sharif insisted that I arrange a direct meeting with the ‘sheikh’, which I did in Saudi Arabia. Nawaz met Osama thrice in Saudi Arabia,” Khawaja said.

He said that the most “historic” meeting between the two men was held at the Green Palace Hotel in Madina. “Osama asked Nawaz to devote himself to ‘jihad in Kashmir’. Nawaz immediately said: ‘I love jihad.’ Osama smiled, and … said. ‘Yes, you may love jihad, but your love for jihad is this much,’ pointing to a small portion of a nearby pillar. ‘Your love for your children is this much,’ he said, pointing to a larger portion of the pillar. ‘And your love for your parents is this much,’ he continued, pointing towards the largest portion.

Khawaja said that such arguments were “beyond the comprehension” of Sharif, who kept asking “Manya key nai manya? (Has he agreed or not?)”.

The former premier was hoping for a grant of Rs 500 million. Although Bin Laden gave a smaller amount, Khawaja said that he arranged for Sharif to meet the Saudi royal family, which pledged political support for him and kept its word until he was dislodged by President Pervez Musharraf in 1999, AKI reported. In fact, it was the royal family that secured Sharif’s pardon and exile to Saudi Arabia.

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