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Osama alive, could be in Pakistan: Musharraf

September 23, 2003 11:14 IST

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is alive and may be hiding in his country.           

"Yes," Musharraf said in an interview with ABC News on Monday when asked whether bin laden was alive. "I think he's on the run, Al Qaeda is on the run. Taliban supporters are on the run."

He said the terrorist mastermind could be in Pakistan or even hiding in Afghanistan and could be shifting places.

"I'm very sure, reasonably sure, that he's shifting places. He's not at one location and so we need to counter a strategic threat developing," Musharraf said.

Elaborating, he said the strategic threat could be the unison of the Al Qaeda with Taliban supporters and with the dissenting moderates. "We will not allow that on our side."

"With each passing day, our intelligence set-up and the quick reaction force, effectiveness is improving, and we are very sure that our side will be acting strongly, and there is no possibility of strategic build-up here," the Pakistan president said.

He also said Pakistan needs more assistance from the US in fighting terrorism.

More than half of the $3 billion the US is giving Pakistan in the next five years might be utilised in the social sector, he said. "We don't want it for the military, by the way. I don't want it for the military at all... This division is not ours, we may be needing some parts all right, it doesn't need this kind of money."

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