80,000 troops to nab al-Qaeda: Musharraf

The Pak president also slammed as 'ridiculous' a list given by Afghanistan containing details of Taliban militia members reportedly active in Pakistan.

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WASHINGTON: President Pervez Musharraf has claimed that 80,000 troops were operating against the al-Qaeda terror network and slammed as “ridiculous” a list given by Afghanistan containing details of Taliban militia members reportedly active in Pakistan, saying it contained “dead numbers.”

Amid growing doubts about his and the army’s role in the hunt for Osama, Musharraf was asked by ABC on Monday if Pakistan was going after the al-Qaeda chief aggressively enough. “We are not using the army only to track down Osama. We are using the army against al-Qaeda and Taliban. In the process, if you get word on him, very good. But we are not certainly focusing entirely on tracking Laden and his deputy Ayman al- Zawahri.”

He added 80,000 troops were fighting al-Qaeda and Taliban in Pakistan’s mountainous border with Afghanistan but added it was unknown whether Osama was in Pakistan.

About a list containing information on key Taliban figures handed over by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Musharraf said, “President Karzai gives me a list of numbers, ridiculous kind of numbers that they are here.”

When asked about reports that Pakistanis were being recruited in his country and sent into Afghanistan as suicide bombers, Musharraf said, “Nobody denies that there is Taliban and al-Qaeda activity in our border... I don’t deny it but if anyone thinks that everything that happens in Afghanistan is from Pakistan, Osama bin Laden is in Pakistan — certainly (Taliban chief) Mullah Omar is in Afghanistan. I’m 200 percent sure.” “He’s in Afghanistan.”

Asked about terrorist training camps in Pakistan, Musharraf conceded, “There are people here” but added, “I have been telling Karzai and the US, ‘Let us fence the border and let us mine it.’”

“It is not difficult. Let the United States come, let Afghanistan in so that nobody crosses. They die when they cross,” he said.

Musharraf also dismissed as “misperception” a question that Pakistan was not going after Taliban militia, saying that a spokesman of Taliban was caught just a few months back.

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