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Osama bin Laden may be alive: Musharraf
June 22, 2003 22:15 IST
Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden might be alive and in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said.
"Initially, I thought he may be dead. I believe now that more chances are that he is alive," Musharraf told BBC television programme, Breakfast With Frost, telecast on Sunday.
Musharraf said bin Laden could be either in Afghanistan or in the remote region of Pakistan bordering the central Asian country.
"Where he is, it can be either side of the border. I keep saying that maybe he's moving continuously. If he is moving with a small body (of people) around him, he could be on the Pakistani side," Musharraf said.
"But if he is moving with a large body, then I think that Afghanistan is a better place to hide because there he is not exposed."
Asked whether international efforts to combat terrorism were proving successful, Musharraf said the fight against terror was succeeding at least in Asia and Al Qaeda no longer existed as a unified network in the region.
"In our region, I am very sure that the war against Al Qaeda is being won," Musharraf said. "As a homogenous body, under a command and control arrangement, they don't exist any more."
"There are limited numbers. We have got the top echelon, even the second echelon. I think we are dealing with something like the third echelon and have one or two more important personalities that are at large," he said in the interview recorded during his visit last week.
Answering a question, Musharraf said he planned to step down as army chief within the next three years, depending upon the stability in the country.
"I do agree in principle that I should not be a combination of president and the chief of army staff," he said. "Maybe it will be earlier than three years depending upon the stability in the country."
"Once stability comes -- and let me judge it myself and I will judge it in all sincerity and honesty -- I will give up the army chief's role," Musharraf said.