Bin Laden not within Pakistani borders, says PM Gilani

Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has refuted intelligence reports that Osama bin Laden is hiding within Pakistan's borders following a meeting with his British counterpart, Gordon Brown, in London.


REUTERS - Pakistan does not believe Osama bin Laden is sheltering within its borders, Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said on Thursday, staunchly defending his government's efforts to crack down on al Qaeda militants.

Gilani also said Pakistan wanted more clarity from the United States on its plan to send 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan and then start withdrawing forces from 2011.

Intelligence analysts say bin Laden is probably sheltering in Pakistani tribal areas near its border with Afghanistan -- a region where Pakistan, under growing pressure from the West, has been trying to drive out Taliban and al Qaeda influence.

"I doubt the information which you are giving is correct because I don't think Osama bin Laden is in Pakistan," Gilani said when asked at a news conference with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown about efforts to track down the al Qaeda leader.

He dismissed the British assertion that most al Qaeda plots against Britain are rooted in Pakistan, citing progress in fighting militants in areas such as South Waziristan.

"I don't agree with this information," he said. "We have been very successful. We are extremely successful."

But brute force was not enough on its own to overcome extremism, he said, arguing that convincing communities in tribal areas to reject militancy had more to do with investing in education and the economy.

"Military action is not the solution," he said. "Military action is only ten percent."

U.S. President Barack Obama said this week he was ordering 30,000 more troops into Pakistan's neighbour Afghanistan to counter a resurgent Taliban and would look to start withdrawing troops from mid-2011.

That has sparked concerns that, given a timetable by their foes, the Taliban may just retreat into tribal areas in Pakistan until NATO-led forces go home and then resurface.

Obama said a cancer had taken root in Pakistan's border region with Afghanistan and promised U.S. help to end it.

"Regarding the new policy, we are carefully examining it," Gilani said. "We have already issued a statement through the foreign office and we are looking into how we will be able to implement it and we need more clarity on it as well."

Gilani said Obama had discussed the Afghan plans with Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari.


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