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Pak's focus not just on Osama: Musharraf

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf also said his country was doing all it could in the US-led war against terrorism.

india Updated: Feb 28, 2006 14:00 IST
Reuters
Reuters
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Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said on Monday his country was doing all it could in the US-led war against terrorism.

He also offered to fence and mine its border with Afghanistan to stem Taliban infiltration.

"I have been telling Karzai and the United States, 'Let us fence the border and let us mine it.' Today I say it again. Let us mine their entire border. Let us fence it. It's not difficult," Musharraf said, referring to Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Speaking in an ABC News interview days before a planned visit to Pakistan by US President George W Bush, Musharraf rejected as "a misperception" criticism that he was not aggressive enough in the pursuit of Taliban fugitives or Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

"We are not using the army only to track down Osama," Musharraf said.

"We are using the army against Al-Qaeda and Taliban. Now in the process, if you get word on him, very good. But we are not certainly focusing entirely only on tracking Osama bin Laden."

Asked whether he was doing all that he could do to shut down terrorist training camps in Pakistan, Musharraf responded: "Eighty thousand troops are operating. That is what I'm doing about it. Four hundred casualties we've suffered. That is what we are doing about it."

During a visit to Pakistan this month, Karzai urged Pakistan to take action against the Taliban leadership, Al-Qaeda and other militants who he said launched attacks from sanctuaries on Pakistani soil.

A senior Afghan security official said on Monday that Afghanistan has solid evidence about militant training camps in Pakistan and the presence there of fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.

Musharraf conceded that border security was a problem but said he was certain that Omar was not in Pakistan.

"Nobody denies that there is Taliban and Al-Qaeda activity here in our border," Musharraf told ABC. But, he said, "certainly Mullah Omar is in Afghanistan."

"I'm 200 per cent sure he's in Afghanistan. He's living in his own area," Musharraf said.

Pakistan was the main supporter of the Taliban government in Afghanistan but became a US ally in its war against terrorism after the September 11 attacks.

US-led forces overthrew the Taliban in late 2001 because Omar refused to hand over bin Laden, architect of the attacks.

More than four years on, bin Laden and Omar remain at large and a Taliban insurgency rages on. More than 1,500 people have been killed in the conflict since the start of last year alone.

First Published: Feb 28, 2006 09:50 IST