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Pakistan says Taliban chief in Afghanistan

Pakistan has said that Mullah Mohammad Omar is in Afghanistan leading an insurgency against Afghan, US and NATO-led forces.
None | By Asian News International, Islamabad
UPDATED ON JAN 23, 2007 03:24 PM IST

Pakistan has said that the Taliban's fugitive chief, Mullah Mohammad Omar, is in Afghanistan leading an insurgency against Afghan, US and NATO-led forces.

A Taliban spokesman captured in Afghanistan last week, had claimed that Omar was in Pakistan, and denied that he was leading the revolt in Afghanistan.

Tasneem Aslam, the spokesperson of the Pakistan Foreign Office, rejected the claim, saying Omar was most probably in Kandahar.

"As for the so-called Taliban spokesperson's assertions; first we don't know under what circumstances such a statement was extracted from him. The methods employed there are well known," said Aslam in her weekly news conference here.

She said it was far more likely that Omar was hiding in Afghanistan where sympathy for the Taliban is more evident.

"We have very regular meetings and intelligence sharing with the US and to some extent with Afghans. Nobody has any information about the whereabouts of Mullah Omar.

But generally, the likely scenario is that he is in Kandahar from where he marshalling his troops," added Aslam.

Pakistan was the main supporter of the Taliban until the September 11 attacks on the United States, when it joined the US-led war on terrorism.

But Afghan anger at Taliban infiltration from Pakistan has seriously strained relations between the US allies.

The US military has reported a sharp increase in the number of Taliban attacks from Pakistan, where US military officials say the Taliban's command and control is based in lawless tribal areas.

Pakistan, which has been battling militants in its tribal lands on the border, acknowledges that some militants are slipping into Afghanistan, but says the Taliban are an Afghan problem, feeding on poverty and anger with the government over corruption.

Last year, Afghanistan saw the bloodiest insurgency since the US-led forces ousted the Taliban in 2001. More than 4,000 people were killed last year.

Pakistan has been under pressure from the US and other western powers to do more to stem the crossing of militants into Afghanistan.

Aslam also said terrorist activities were originating from Afghan refugee camps near the Pakistan-Afghan border and asked the international community to help relocate them their camps inside Afghanistan.

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