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EXCLUSIVE: Taliban chief hides in Pakistan
Question of the Day
Mohammed, who was captured by the CIA with ISI help in Pakistan in 2003, was sent to the detention facility at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and is now set to go on trial in New York. In 2007, at a closed military hearing at Guantanamo, he confessed that he personally beheaded Mr. Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter.
Pakistani officials said they were perplexed by the U.S. reports regarding Mullah Omar and denied that the ISI had facilitated a move by the Quetta shura to Karachi.
Nadeem Kiani, a spokesman for the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, said the U.S. has not provided Pakistan with any credible intelligence regarding Mullah Omar’s whereabouts.
“We have no evidence of his presence in Pakistan,” Mr. Kiani said. “If anybody in the U.S. government knows of any Quetta shura or Karachi shura, why don’t they share that intelligence with Pakistan so we can take care of the issue ourselves? We have not been made aware of any presence of Mullah Omar in the region.”
He said the ISI and Pakistani military have “suffered a lot of losses fighting the terrorists” and that “people who are making these accusations have their own agendas.”
“Our forces are fighting the Taliban in Waziristan and other areas,” he said. “The terrorists are now killing and targeting innocent people in Pakistani cities. ISI is a very professional intelligence agency and these allegations are baseless.”
Mr. Kiani added that the U.S. and Pakistan have “24-hour intelligence sharing.”
Another Pakistani official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the nature of his work, told The Times, “If Pakistan is made aware of the allegations and we do nothing, then the U.S. will know who to blame. Pakistan can take action with credible information.
“But to shift the blame on Pakistan and the security forces because Afghanistan is becoming more of a problem is not going to be helpful but have a demoralizing effect on the situation both here and there,” he said.
Mary Habeck, a professor and analyst on radical Islam at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, said the reported move “suggests the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistani Taliban are one and the same thing.”
She said that it also “shows the Taliban are not the marginalized group we have been saying they are. They can move into a major city in Pakistan and believe they are safe there.”
By Tom Harris and Madhav Khandekar
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