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Osama and friends are in Pak: Afghanistan

Foreign Minister Abdullah says according to his country's intelligence, the Al-Qaeda chief is "outside Afghanistan".

india Updated: Mar 20, 2006 15:00 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Afghanistan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah has claimed that Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, his deputy Ayman Zawahiri and Taliban leader Mullah Omar are "all together" and "in Pakistan".

In an interview to CNN, Abdullah said according to his country's intelligence, Laden was "outside Afghanistan and he might be in the same place where other members of Al-Qaeda have been arrested".

He said Zawahiri too was with Laden, according to the Daily Times newspaper.

Asked if the Al-Qaeda leader was in Pakistan, the Afghanistan Foreign Minister replied that it was "more likely".

On the whereabouts of Mullah Omar, Abdullah said all these "friends" would be found together.

Security experts believe that Abdullah's word about their being "together" could be taken literally only if he was hinting at a conclave of the fugitive terrorists that does take place from time to time.

Analysts pointed out that going by the way these militants operated, their being "together" would entail grave security risk to themselves.

Analysts said Abdullah's statements appeared to be more a diplomatic offensive against Pakistan.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Pakistani counterpart Pervez Musharraf have been engaged in an angry blame-game over who is responsible for skirmishes on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and who is sheltering and arming the Taliban elements responsible for persistent internal turmoil in Afghanistan.

The assessment of the US state department, as also NATO that is doing peacekeeping in Afghanistan, is that the threat from the Taliban to the Karzai regime has been more serious than it has been in his last four years in office.

Abdullah called for greater cooperation between the two countries because they faced a common threat.

Asked to comment on Musharraf's harsh remarks about Karzai in an earlier interview to CNN, the Afghan minister replied that Pakistan and Afghanistan have to work things out and added that there were Taliban bases inside Pakistan.

On whether that meant Pakistan was not doing enough to deal with the Taliban and other such elements in the tribal areas of Pakistan, he replied, "Yes of course they know about this."

Asked "how bad" the relationship between the two countries was, the foreign minister said it was his hope that "we would put it behind us as soon as possible" and the two countries would deal with a common threat in a straightforward manner.

First Published: Mar 20, 2006 12:48 IST