Mulla Omar operating freely in Pakistan: Afghan FM
KABUL: Afghanistan has hit back at Pakistan’s dismissal of its intelligence about Taliban and Al Qaeda militants in Pakistani territory, notably information about the whereabouts of the reclusive Taliban leader Mulla Omar.
Afghanistan handed over the information during a visit last month by President Hamid Karzai to Pakistan — a key ally in the US “war on terror”..
Pakistan at first denied in statements to the media that it had received the intelligence and then said most of it was outdated, including about the possible whereabouts of the fugitive Omar. Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah questioned Pakistan’s attitude. He said that Afghanistan would not have handed over information it did not believe in and neighbours were expected to share details of the common threat.
“We wouldn’t have given anything to them had we not been sure about its credibility,” he said in an interview.
Abdullah said Afghanistan believed most of the “Taliban leaders that are actively instigating terror in Afghanistan” were in Pakistan, with Omar known to have spent time in the border city of Peshawar and in Balochistan. “We have provided evidence of him being outside of Afghanistan, in Quetta in Balochistan , to our Pakistani friends.” This was not for “one day, not one hour but time and again in Quetta.” Afghan officials have repeatedly accused Pakistan of turning a blind eye to Taliban training camps on its soil and also alleged that some circles in Pakistan support the hardliners. Pakistan denies the accusations, pointing to the tens of thousands of troops it has had in the region for two years to hunt down the militants. It also claims to have netted two-thirds of the Qaeda leaders in its territory.
On Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Abdullah said: “I hope he will be captured one day, the same way that these two-thirds of Al Qaeda leaders have been captured.” On Wednesday the Pakistani military said it had killed 40 Al Qaeda suspects in a ground and air strike on a militant training camp in a tribal area bordering Afghanistan.
President Musharraf, in an interview with the BBC aired Wednesday, said his country was taking “all possible measures” against militants. Abdullah said the least that could be expected from Pakistan was that it would go after camps known to be training militants. “When there are 80,000 troops in those areas, when there is a well-established security service the least which is expected is that those training camps in the vicinity will be stopped from operating,” he said. The minister said allegations from Islamabad that Afghan intelligence was in collusion with India or that there were factions within Afghanistan that opposed Pakistan were “a paranoia that they should overcome”. afp