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'Pak not a stooge of America or Britain'

Amid a war of words with Britain over the presence of top al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan's restive tribal areas, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said his country is not a stooge of America or Britain, but an ally among equals in the battle against terrorism.

world Updated: Dec 05, 2009 00:27 IST

Amid a war of words with Britain over the presence of top al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan's restive tribal areas, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said his country is not a stooge of America or Britain, but an ally among equals in the battle against terrorism.

"It is our war that we are fighting, not a proxy war for the US. Pakistan is an ally among equals in the battle against terrorism, not an American or British stooge," Gilani told The Times.

Rejecting British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's charge that Osama bin Laden was probably in Pakistan's wild tribal territories and that the government should have done more to catch him, Gilani said "Certainly, he's not there."

Gilani made it clear that the al-Qaeda leader was not in Pakistan during his tenure - since March 2008. Nor did he have any intelligence to the effect that bin Laden had been on Pakistani soil at any point since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

If the US wanted Pakistan to pursue him it would have to furnish evidence that he was there, Gilani said.

He shrugged off Brown's criticism, calling him "a seasoned parliamentarian" and implying that the remarks were intended for public consumption.

Gilani was glad that Brown had "clarified" them yesterday.