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'Hunt for Osama in Pak speculation'
K J M Varma in Islamabad | September 11, 2006 21:23 IST
Dismissing as "speculation" reports that the US Special Operations Group has been tasked to track down Osama bin Laden within Pakistan's territory, Islamabad on Monday said there was nothing to suggest the Al Qaeda leader or Taliban chief Mullah Omar were hiding in the country.
"Pakistan is responsible for any operation on its side of the border against any terrorists," Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said, refuting reports that the US Special Operations Group has been tasked to track Osama and termed these as mere "speculation".
About reports regarding the presence of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, she said, "There is no evidence to suggest that."
She also rubbished reports about sighting of Mullah Omar and termed it a baseless allegation.
Pakistan is in the process of citing Ramzan moon and has not cited Omar yet, she said in a lighter vein.
Her comments came as hardline Islamic party Jammat-e-Islami's leader Khurshid Ahmed expressed concern over reports that US Special Operations Group has been tasked to track down Osama bin Laden within Pakistan's territory.
"If true this is a clear infringement of Pakistan's sovereignty," Khurshid Ahmed said in a statement adding, "it also poses a threat to ongoing efforts at establishing peace in the tribal areas."
Asked how Pakistan viewed the post 9/11 scenario, she said, "We need a long term strategy to address political disputes, sense of alienation and removal of grievances."
Aslam said the world also had to look into factors behind terrorism. "In the long-term we also need to address and focus on causes that provide these terrorists the peg to appeal to the sentiments of ordinary people. This fight against terrorism is a continuing process."
She claimed Pakistan has played an important role in the war against terrorism. When reminded that there had been 30 suicide bombings involving Pakistanis after 9/11, she said suicide bombing was not unique to Pakistan and it was happening around the globe.
On the recent peace deal signed with tribal elders and pro-Taliban militants along the zone of north Waziristan, she denied the agreement was between government and local Taliban as was reported in the media.
She said the pact was between the local authorities and the tribals in North Western Frontier Province adding, the agreement is not a "defeat... this agreement is in line with our policy that military operations alone do not provide a solution to problem of violence, extremism or terrorism."
About President Pervez Musharraf's visit to Afghanistan, Aslam termed it a landmark one and recalled the joint statement issued on the occasion.
To a question about sending military de-mining contingent to the Lebanon, she said it is not part of the UN peacekeeping mission and is on the request of the Lebanese government.
Meanwhile, Ahmed appreciated the recently concluded peace deal between the government and tribal leaders of south and north Waziristan.
"Certain elements are out to sabotage this important development, and US intrusion can be understood in this context," Ahmed said.