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Osama is in Pakistan, says Kabul

The US envoy to Kabul Said T Jawad says the Al-Qaeda chief needs medical attention he can't get in Afghanistan.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2007 13:39 IST

The Taliban and terrorists in Afghanistan are drawing motivation from what they call success in Iraq with Al-Qaeda and other foreign fighters operating in Pakistan providing the necessary link, according to Kabul's envoy to the United States.

"But the objectives of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban are slightly different. The Taliban don't have any clear vision of what they would like for Afghanistan," Ambassador Said T Jawad told Newsweek.

Kabul also believed that Osama bin Laden is "spending most of his time in Pakistan".

"It's too difficult in Afghanistan; many countries have their intelligence agencies there. He may be in Bajaur Agency.

"But we can't rule out that he's in one of the Pakistani cities. He needs medical attention he can't get in remote areas of Afghanistan — dialysis for his kidneys. He's in a protected environment, not an isolated cave," Jawad said in a web exclusive piece published Monday.

The Taliban don't have a charismatic leader, he said. Mullah Omar is "there, but he's not a Che Guevara or a Yasir Arafat or anybody.

He's just an illiterate mullah who can hardly read, and nobody can see his face. He's certainly not a force to draw inspiration or a force to mobilise people around".

Asked if interception of a recent convoy intercepted coming across from Pakistan suggested that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf is starting to provide real-time intelligence, Jawad said, "We hope so."

"But at the same time ... the problem is that these people are being trained and acquiring financial and ideological support in Pakistan. Those sanctuaries must be eliminated.

The leadership was living in Quetta. We arrested the Taliban spokesperson and he said that Mullah Omar is in Quetta," Newsweek quoted him as saying.

Asked if Kabul expected a large spring offensive this year, Jawad said, "Yes, the intelligence indications are that the Taliban are preparing for a bloody spring. They are training a lot of people right now."

"In order to avoid this, we are doing two things: We are working with Pakistan to prevent the offensive, and, if that's not possible, at least reduce its intensity," he said.

And then on the military front, the current levels of military capabilities are not adequate in Afghanistan to confront the Taliban offensive.

A slight increase in the troops is necessary, and improving the quality of the troops. NATO and Afghan National Army troops are missing some crucial equipment, Jawad said.