Ambassador Durrani Wants Osama 'Strung up' on Pole

Washington, DC: Reaffirming Pakistan's commitment to the war on terrorism, Ambassador Mahmud Durrani has said that his government was not only pursuing Osama bin Laden, but all his associates.
"Our commitment is total and absolute," Durrani said in a telephone interview with CNN, the international network which carried a two-hour documentary "In the Footsteps of bin Laden," last Wednesday night.
"This is in our national interest. We want to get rid of extremism and terrorism,” Ambassador Durrani said while responding to questions from CNN.
The two-hour special, reported by CNN's correspondent Christiane Amanpour, was based on terrorism expert Peter Bergen's book, "The Osama bin Laden I know."
Would he like Osama bin Laden captured or killed?
"I would like to see bin Laden strung up from the tallest pole," Durrani said. "He is no friend of Pakistan."
He added that he believes bin Laden is "somewhere in Afghanistan."
But some of the US intelligence officials and experts, who appeared in the documentary, said Osama bin Laden is likely hiding in Chitral area, bounded by Afghanistan to the west and China to the north.
Contrary to popular belief, the officials said, bin Laden most likely isn't living in a cave but in a house, possibly with a family and no more than two bodyguards. However, the Pakistan ambassador said Chitral is "the last place Osama bin Laden would be," citing both cultural and religious differences.
"They don't like him," he said. "In Chitral, he would stand out like a sore thumb."
Durrani said Pakistan and the United States are working cooperatively to share intelligence.
The belief that Osama bin Laden is in Pakistan is also based in part on common sense, the CNN report said. Every senior al Qaeda leader who has been captured since September 11, 2001 has been run to the ground in Pakistan. Also, the al-Qaeda has deep roots in the country, where it was founded by bin Laden in 1988, the network said.
"Bin Laden started visiting Pakistan in the early 1980s and is comfortable there. He enjoys a degree of safety there because while there are some 20,000 US troops and 15,000 NATO troops inside neighboring Afghanistan, none are able to go into Pakistan because no Pakistani government will allow foreign troops on its territory," the report said.
"And despite what the Pakistan ambassador says, some believe the Pakistani government has had little appetite for hunting down bin Laden as he arguably enjoys more popularity in Pakistan than any Pakistani politician".
Gary Berntsen, who led a CIA paramilitary unit pursuing bin Laden shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks, said Pakistan is a country bin Laden knows well. He feels at home there and enjoys popular support. It's also a country where the US military is not welcome. "It's likely that he's in Pakistan," he told CNN as part of the documentary.
Berntsen said there are Pakistanis who remember bin Laden's work from the 1980s, when he set up what is known as the Services Bureau in Peshawar to help refugees fleeing the Soviets in Afghanistan. "They have as a custom [of] not turning in individuals," Berntsen said. "He has sought refuge among them.”



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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