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Afghan Taliban chief not in Karachi: Pak govt

November 20, 2009 22:34 IST

Pakistan on Friday dismissed reports claiming Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Omar had fled from Quetta to Karachi, with the help of the Inter Services Intelligence, to avoid the possibility of being targeted by United States drones.

"This is ridiculous to say the least," Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit told reporters. He said there had been speculations about Omar's presence in Pakistan 'for years'.

"According to our information, the head of the Taliban in Afghanistan should be in Afghanistan. If someone knows about his whereabouts, it would be far better if that information is shared with us rather than speculating through the media," Basit said.

He said there 'is simply no truth' in the assertion that Omar is in Pakistan.

Two senior US intelligence officials and a former Central Intelligence Agency officer had been quoted by The Washington Times as saying that Omar traveled to Karachi in October after the end of the holy month of Ramzan.

He inaugurated a new senior Taliban leadership council in Karachi, a city that so far has escaped US and Pakistani counter-terrorism campaigns, the officials said.

The US officials said Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency helped Taliban leaders move from Quetta, where they were exposed to possible attacks by US drones.

Bruce Riedel, a CIA veteran, told the daily that Omar had been spotted in Karachi recently. "Some sources claim that the ISI decided to move him further from the battlefield to keep him safe," Riedel was quoted as saying.

In the recent past, US diplomats have pressured Pakistan to take action against the 'Quetta Shura' of the Afghan Taliban. Pakistan has denied the existence of such a group.

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