Pakistan denies US claim of Taliban Al-Qaeda presence in QuettaOctober 5, 2009
ISLAMABAD, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) — Pakistan has dismissed the U.S. accusation about the presence of Al-Qaeda and Taliban in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan in southwest Pakistan, and termed it “baseless,” Pakistani intelligence agencies and officials said. Gerald Feierstein, U.S. deputy ambassador to Pakistan, on Thursday claimed that the Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban leader Mullah Omar are in Pakistan’s Quetta. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who is on a public diplomacy tour in the United States, said Saturday the statements about the presence of Osama and Mullah Omar are just speculation. Pakistani intelligence agencies have categorically denied the western media reports about the presence of Taliban Shura in Quetta and termed it baseless. Intelligence agencies presented a detail report to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and other government officials in this respect, saying that there are no Taliban in Quetta and adjoining areas and western media’s perception in this regard is totally wrong.
Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik told media Friday that the information relating to the presence of Mullah Omar in Quetta is incorrect and baseless. Pakistan’s Foreign Office Spokesman Abdul Basit also rejected the U.S. assertions, saying any information about their whereabouts should be shared with them. Basit said the government is in close contact with the United States and there should be exchange of intelligence so that appropriate action could be taken. Such statement made by a U.S. official creates distrust between the two allies, he added. Meanwhile, Balochistan Assembly Speaker Muhammad Aslam Bhootanion Friday also rejected the western media reports about the presence of Mulla Omar and other operatives in Quetta, saying this appeared to be a part of the U.S. policy of asking Islamabad to do more with reference to anti-terrorism war. The provincial assembly speaker said the militants were based in Swat in the northwest and gained strength there and the Pakistani security forces never hesitated in crushing them and achieved wonderful results in the shortest possible time