ISLAMABAD: President Pervez Musharraf has said that there is no proof whatsoever that Osama bin Laden is in Pakistan and added that the country is not particularly looking for him, but operating against Al-Qaeda and militant Taliban. In an interview with American TV CBS, Musharraf said that Pakistan has done more than any country in the fighting against terrorism. Pakistan, he said, has arrested or eliminated about 700 Al-Qaeda leaders.
He vigorously defended Pakistan’s efforts against terrorists on the Afghan border saying that Pakistan is confronting with the challenges of extremism and terrorism. He dismissed the suggestion that al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden may be hiding on the Pakistani side. He said there is no such proof that he is in Pakistan.
Musharraf said, “We are not particularly looking for him but we are operating against terrorists and Al-Qaeda and militant Taliban. And in the process, obviously, it is combined; maybe we are looking for him also. Yes. If he is here?” He said Pakistan is strongly operating against al-Qaeda as well as the militant Taliban. He pointed out that Pakistan has deployed more than 100,000 troops along its border with Afghanistan to check movement of militants and curb terrorism.
Commenting on former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s murder, President Musharraf said that Ms Bhutto was to blame for her own death. “For standing up outside the car, I think it was she to blame alone. Nobody else,” he said. He said that his government had given her adequate protection. “She was given more security than any other person,” he stated. Asked if Bhutto could have been shot, Musharraf said, “Yes, absolutely, yes. Possibility.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, Mahmud Ali Durrani, told CNN that, if Pakistan knew where Osama bin Laden was, the country would have taken him out. “If we knew where he was, we would have taken him out,” he said. Durrani said that Musharraf’s comment about “not specifically looking for Osama” means that the Pakistani military is “totally focused on destroying Al-Qaeda and the Taliban network and not just one person.”
About Bhutto’s death, he said that the investigation is not completed “and we should not jump to conclusions.”-SANA