Was it possible in 2001? UPDATED

UPDATE: Asharq Al Awsat just posted a translation. 

Amr Khan, a former Pakistani cricket star and current leader of the Pakistani Justice Party has a long interview in today’s Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.  Khan harshly criticizes US strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan and blames former President Musharef for the country’s current impasse (though he once supported him).  There’s lots of good stuff in the interview which those who know Arabic should read.   One point discussed was whether the Taliban is capable of being split from Al-Qaeda: 

As part of a larger critique of US policy in Afghanistan/ Pakistan, Khan says the following:

If AQ was  actually responsible for 9/11, then it is the only force that has the ability to attack Western capitals (voicing typical skepticism seen in Arab press that AQ actually had tactical ability to carry out 9/11) .  But why then, the attack on the Taliban?  Why didn’t they take their time to distinguish between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, which was possible?”……..attacking a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 only turned the population against the US…. united the Pashtuns against the US…

The Interviewer then pushed Khan on his point about the plausibility of dividing AQ from the Taliban (in 01)

Q:  Allow me to return to your point about dividing Al-Qaeda from the Taliban.  In theory, its easy to say this but in practice was this really possible? How would you have done it?

A:  First, , all the parties opposed to the Taliban gathered in Peshawar before the war and tried to convince the Americans to not attack the Taliban, saying that the movement was weak internally and its energy was dispensing.  They requested more time to try and change the regime peacefully.

Second, the Shura Council (the Taliban Parliament) had sent messages to the movement requesting Bin Laden leave the country before the war

Three,  what the Taliban said was that they were prepared to turn over Bin Laden or turn him over to a Muslim country, they never rejected this, in fact there were negotiations.  The Americans say that they didn’t have any other options but this is not true. They had several in front of them. 

There was no discussion of current efforts to divide AQ and the Taliban.

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