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Osama may be hiding in Pak: US

The US envoy in charge of counter-terrorism, Henry Crumpton, says Pak is a "safe haven" for terrorists.

india Updated: May 07, 2006 10:27 IST

The US ambassador in charge of counter-terrorism on Saturday said that parts of Pakistan are a "safe haven" for terrorists and that Osama bin Laden was more likely to be hiding there than in Afghanistan.

Henry Crumpton lauded Pakistan for arresting "hundreds and hundreds" of Al-Qaeda figures but said that it needed to do more.

"Has Pakistan done enough? I think the answer is no. I have conveyed that to them, other US officials have conveyed that to them," he told reporters at the US Embassy in Kabul after talks with Afghan officials.

The chief spokesman for Pakistan's army, Major General Shaukat Sultan, dismissed Crumpton's assertion that Pakistan was not doing enough.

"It is totally absurd," he said. "No one has conveyed this thing to Pakistan, and if someone claims so, it is absurd."

Crumpton confirmed that Pakistan had captured Mustafa Setmarian Nasar, a top Al-Qaeda strategist with a $5 million bounty on his head - whom US And Pakistani officials say was arrested in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta in November. Crumpton said that this showed that Pakistan is working to arrest Al-Qaeda leaders.

Pakistan has also launched repeated counter-terrorism operations in its lawless tribal regions close to the Afghan border over the past two years, in which hundreds of terrorists and soldiers have died.

"Our expectation is that they will continue to make progress, and we know that it's difficult," he said. Pakistan "can't remain a safe haven for enemy forces, and right now parts of Pakistan are indeed that."

Crumpton said US officials continue to believe that Osama bin Laden is somewhere along the Afghan- Pakistani border, and more likely on the Pakistani side.