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Osama may be in Pakistan: Musharraf
March 24, 2003 21:46 IST
President Pervez Musharraf has said that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden might have fled to Pakistan to evade an intensified United States-led hunt in Afghanistan.
He had earlier said that it was unlikely that bin Laden would be in Pakistan.
However, in an interview to The Wall Street Journal published on Monday, Musharraf said the military operation in Afghanistan might have dispersed bin Laden's retinue.
Musharraf, who was interviewed in his personal army compound last week in Rawalpindi, said bin Laden and a much-reduced group of guards might then have fled to the tribal belt in Pakistan, where there is much popular sympathy for him.
"If he is relegated to that position, where his group is forced or divided into small packets," said Musharraf, "now a small packet with him coming to our side of the border and now hiding in one area, a house or a room, is a possibility.
"As the environment keeps changing, one has to keep evaluating what are the possibilities."
Some critics, the WSJ noted, accused Musharraf of failing to wholeheartedly cooperate with the US-led attempt to destroy the Al Qaeda. But the president disputed that claim.
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