We're not specifically pursuing Osama: Musharraf

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Washington, Jan 8: Pakistan is not specifically pursuing Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, as there is no proof he is in Pakistan, President Pervez Musharraf has said.

''We are not particularly looking for him, but we are operating against terrorists and Al-Qaeda and militant Taliban. And in the process, obviously, combined, may be we are looking for him also,'' President Musharraf told CBS television in an interview. ''We are fighting first of all Al-Qaeda. Let"s take Al-Qaeda.

We have arrested or eliminated about 700 Al-Qaeda leaders...which other country has done this?,'' he asked in reply to a query what his government was doing to find the world's most wanted terrorist.

He categorically rejected rumours that the fugitive was hiding in the in restive Pakistan-Afgahistan border region. ''No, I challenge...I don"t accept that at all. There is no proof whatsoever that he is here in Pakistan,'' Gen (retd) Musharraf asserted.

Pakistan Ambassador to the US Mahmoud Ali Durrani later clarified that President Musharraf was suggesting that neither Pakistan nor the US has any intelligence about Osama's whereabouts.

''He may be in Afghanistan...He may be in the border region. If we knew where he was, we would have taken him out,'' Mr Durrani said.

Durrani noted that the US and other foreign intelligence agencies believe bin Laden to be sheltering in the tribal area along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. ''But, that"s just speculation,'' the envoy said.

''And when President Musharraf says that he"s not specifically looking for Osama, what he really means is that we are totally focused on destroying Al-Qaeda and the Taliban network and not just one person,'' he explained.


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