'No US search troops for Osama in Pak'

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Islamabad, Jul 14: Pakistan Foreign Minister Mehmood Qureshi has said that no one was sure if Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan's territory, and that, in case Pakistan gets actionable information about Osama's presence inside its territory, it would take immediate unilateral action to apprehend him without allowing anyone else to search for him.

He also rejected reports that the US or other foreign military personnel were on the hunt for Laden in Pakistan. "Nobody's aware of that. Nobody can speak with certainty that Osama is in Pakistan. But our policy's very clear. If Pakistan has actionable information vis-a-vis Osama or any other high value target, it will immediately take action," the Daily Times quoted him as saying.

He said that the new PPP-led government had ruled out such military operations, covert or otherwise, to catch militants. "The Pakistani government's policy is that its [security forces] are deployed in sufficient numbers. They are capable of taking action there. And any foreign intrusion would be counterproductive," he said and added "People will not accept it. Questions of sovereignty come in."

Acknowledging that there "some infiltrations" were still occurring across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, he said there were no covert US military operations trying to catch Al Qaeda figures and its chief, Taliban members or any other suspected militants.

"There are none," he said regarding US incursions, and added: "It will create such an anti-US feeling in Pakistan that, I would say, the atmosphere of co-operation that exists between Islamabad and Washington."

Regarding the involvement of local Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud in the killing of former premier Benazir Bhutto, he said: "We cannot jump to conclusions before the investigation is started. Only the inquiry will determine who was or was not responsible."

ANI

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