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Osama not here, so stop strikes: Pakistan to US
KARACHI, JUL 13 (Agencies):
Published on 14 Jul. 2009 12:51 AM IST
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Osama bin Laden and the top al-Qaida leadership are not in Pakistan, making US missile attacks against them futile, according to the country’s interior minister. “If Osama was in Pakistan we would know, with all the thousands of troops we have sent into the tribal areas in recent months,” Rehman Malik said. “If he and all these four or five top people were in our area they would have been caught.” He added: “According to our information Osama is in Afghanistan, probably Kunar, as most of the activities against Pakistan are being directed from Kunar.” Washington does not directly acknowledge its missile attacks on Pakistani territory by unmanned drone aircraft but Pakistani officials say the US has carried out more than 40 attacks inside its borders in the past 10 months, killing hundreds of people. CIA officials claim these attacks have been highly effective in disrupting al-Qaida’s ability to operate. However, Malik insists they are a waste of time because the al-Qaida leadership is on the other side of the border in eastern Afghanistan. “They’re getting mid-level people not big fish,” he said. “And they are counterproductive because they are killing civilians and turning locals against our government. We try to win people’s hearts, then one drone attack drives them away. One attack alone last week killed 50 people.” The army has not yet caught Swat Taliban leaders though the minister claims the chief, Maulana Fazlullah, is badly wounded. “Not only have we killed most of them, we’ve also destroyed their hideouts and arms depots,” he said.

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