Bin Laden not here: Pakistan
Officials have denied that Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden is in Pakistan
AFP Published:Jun 14, 2007
QUETTA, Pakistan - Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and Taliban supremo Mullah Mohammad Omar are not in southwestern Pakistan, a provincial chief minister has told a top US diplomat.
US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher travelled to Quetta, the capital of rugged Baluchistan province bordering Afghanistan, for talks with local officials.
Afghan officials and some Nato commanders have alleged that Taliban leaders are based in the city and using outposts in Pakistan to launch cross-border attacks on international and Afghan troops.
"There is no Taliban headquarters in Baluchistan nor are the Taliban chief Mullah Mohammad Omar or Osama bin Laden in Baluchistan," provincial chief minister Jan Mohammad Yusuf told Boucher, according to an official statement.
Pakistan has repeatedly denied the presence of Bin Laden or Omar in its territory.
The statement said Boucher praised Pakistan’s role in the "war on terror" and agreed that there was no solid evidence about Mullah Omar’s presence in Baluchistan.
The US official later visited the Pakistani border town of Chaman, where he was briefed about efforts to check illegal crossing of the 2,500-kilometre wide border with Afghanistan.
Boucher arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday for a visit that also includes urging embattled ally President Pervez Musharraf to hold "free, fair and transparent" national elections. The polls are expected late this year.
Bin Laden and Mullah Omar have been on the run since US-led forces toppled Afghanistan’s Taliban regime after the 9/11 attacks.
There have been repeated claims that they are in hiding in a remote area along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.