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Osama not in Pak, may be dead: Gilani

By Lalit K Jha
April 13, 2010 13:25 IST
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Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has claimed that world's most wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden is not in his country and said no distinction could be made between a good and a bad Taliban.

"Certainly he is not in Pakistan," Gilani told CNN in Washington, where he is attending the Nuclear Security Summit called by United States President Barack Obama. He claimed that if Osama had been hiding somewhere in Pakistan, he could not have escaped the ongoing military operations.

The Pakistan prime minister admitted he had little information on the whereabouts of the Al Qaeda chief and said that the Pakistan army had conducted widespread operations in region such as Swat, South Waziristan and Orakzai tribal region.

"Our military operations have been very successful, and if Osama was hiding in these areas, he could have been nabbed, I don't know whether he is alive or dead," he said.

Gilani said that he was not in favour of negotiations with the Taliban. "At times, we talk of the good and the bad Taliban. I have always believed that militants are militants. We hardly discriminate between the good Taliban and the bad Taliban," Gilani said.

The Pakistan PM said that militants only wanted to destabilise the system. "Our people have let it be known they will not allow a handful of extremists and terrorists to intrude our peaceful way of life and inclusive culture," he said.

But Gilani said if there was actionable intelligence or credible information regarding bin Laden, Pakistan was ready to share it with the US. Gilani also denied another media report in a US daily, that the Inter Services Intelligence still had links with the Taliban, Al Qaeda and other extremist elements.

"In fact, we have excellent cooperation in the field of intelligence and defence between the US and Pakistan. We had jointly and even separately identified the targets, got them arrested and they are now facing the courts," he said.

Islamabad enjoys a very good relationship with the US, Gilani claimed, adding that Pakistan is cooperating with the US on the war against terrorism. Gilani further denied a Washington Post report that Pakistan recently released two high-ranking Taliban militants.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
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