Forbes : Pakistan rejects 'unsubstantiated' US report on Al-Qaeda

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pakistan rejects 'unsubstantiated' US report on Al-Qaeda

July 18, 2007

ISLAMABAD (Thomson Financial) - Pakistan today said a US intelligence report alleging that Osama Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network has regrouped in safe havens in the country's northwest is unsubstantiated.

The US report warned yesterday that the terrorists had regained strength by sheltering in Pakistan's troubled tribal areas and are determined to inflict mass casualties through new attacks on the United States.

But foreign office spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said the report contained 'some unsubstantiated assertions' and asked for evidence to back up Washington's claims.

'We would firmly act to eliminate any Al-Qaeda hideout on the basis of specific intelligence or information,' Aslam said in a statement.

'It does not help simply to make assertions about the presence or regeneration of Al-Qaeda in bordering areas of Pakistan. What is needed is concrete and actionable information and intelligence sharing,' she added.

Aslam said Pakistan had done more than any other country to combat extremism and 'is determined not to allow Al-Qaeda or any other terrorist entity to establish a safe haven on its territory.'

She rejected criticism over a peace deal the government signed with tribal militants in Waziristan region last year which pro-Taliban militants unilaterally renounced on Sunday, triggering a spate of attacks.

She also ruled out the involvement of foreign troops -- for example NATO- and US-led soldiers fighting Taliban insurgents in neighbouring Afghanistan -- in the fight against terrorism.

'Our position is very clear that any counter-terrorism action inside our territory will be taken by our own security forces. This is the basis of our cooperation,' Aslam said.

Senior US intelligence officials said Al-Qaeda's 'operational space' in the tribal areas has grown since President Pervez Musharraf struck a non-aggression pact with tribal leaders in September.

US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian affairs, Richard Boucher, said yesterday that 'some military action is necessary, and will probably have to be taken.'