[Iran President Hassan Rouhani is telling how he had stopped Iran’s attack against Afghanistan, back in 1998 when Iranian diplomats were killed by Taliban in Mazar-e Sharif.]
HASSAN ROUHANI talks about Iranian diplomats’ deaths in Afghanistan: In those days when Taliban had captured Kabul, we faced a bad incident: that was capturing Mazar-e Sharif. One of those people who could have escaped told us what had happened. And later we were informed that the rest of the people inside the consulate were martyred. It was very unjust martyrdom. It was very sad.
ROUHANI tells how some people immediately decided to attack Afghanistan: Naturally, some harsh decisions were made. It was natural for some to come and say, “Now we are even targeted by Taliban?” One of the decisions was to plan and attack inside Afghanistan.
ROUHANI explains his disagreement with the plan for attack: I strongly disagreed. I said, “There should be no blood sheds between Iranian people and Afghan people. We should retaliate, but proportionately.” I said, “Could we identify those who had committed the murder? Could we make sure whether it was done by Taliban or Pakistan’s ISI [Inter-Service Intelligence]? It was almost clear who had committed it. [I said] “Arrest them, bring them here, we will try them and will punish them. But there should be no war. A military attack will create a lot of damages. Many innocent people will be killed. And the end of the war will not be clear.” I made sure that those who insisted on the attack had accepted my words.
ROUHANI tells how he had to rush back from Hajj Pilgrimage to Tehran to stop the imminent attack against Afghanistan: With my family, we had gone [to Mecca] for Hajj Pilgrimage, and “tawaf” was over. I went back to the hotel. The phone rang, and one of the friends in Supreme National Security Council said, “The thing that you disagreed with is happening.” I said, “Stop it until I arrive.” I told my family it would be OK if they wanted to stay longer. I took a flight that night and came back to Iran. The decision was made, and even the forces were ready to move. I saw that they had plans to enter Afghanistan’s soil. I told them, “If we go in, we will have no control over our return.” I said there were many problems with their plan. And there were three problems for which they did not have any answers.
ROUHANI wrote a letter to stop the imminent attack: I wrote my opinion for a high-ranking official of the regime. Revenging deaths of a few people is not equal to attacking another country. People do not like bloodsheds. The answer to that letter was: “It should be revoked.” When I got the answer to that letter, I realized that that was the real Mecca!