`Musharraf disbanded special army unit raised to hunt Osama`

A former ISI cheif has claimed that Musharraf had disbanded a special army unit raised to hunt Osama.

Islamabad: A unit of Pakistan Army
commandos raised specially to hunt Osama bin Laden was
disbanded by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, former
ISI chief Lt Gen (retd) Ziauddin Khwaja has claimed.

Khwaja, also known as Ziauddin Butt, said he had
issued the directive for raising the unit, which comprised 60
personnel and was headed by a brigadier of the Special
Services Group, an elite commando formation.

He took the decision to form the special force after a
meeting with Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar at Kandahar in

"We had set this unit after Mullah Omar showed his
helplessness in getting to Osama," Khwaja told The News daily.

"Mullah Omer told me during a visit to Kandahar that
he was unable to proceed against Osama because he is
considered a heroic figure by some people within Taliban. The
Taliban leader said Osama has become a bone in the throat that
can neither be swallowed nor thrown out," Khwaja said.

"This unit was demolished soon after Musharraf took
over," he added.

Now that calls are being made for holding the
Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) accountable for the
failure to detect bin Laden, Musharraf and Lt Gen (retd)
Mehmood Ahmed, who was head of the ISI, must be taken to task,
Khwaja said.

Khwaja did not give details about when he had met
Mullah Omar or when he had set up the special force.
He dispelled the widespread impression that one of bin
Laden`s wives was Mullah Omar`s daughter.

These and other details are expected to figure in a
book being written by Khwaja, who was made army chief by
former premier Nawaz Sharif in place of Musharraf only to be
removed by the latter in a military coup on October 12, 1999.

The book is expected to be released this year.
Khwaja pointed out that Musharraf had ruled from 1999
to 2008 and it was during this period that bin Laden
reportedly shifted to the garrison city of Abbottabad, where
he was killed by US special forces a week ago.

He denied the impression that former premier Sharif
had sought financial aid from bin Laden to topple former
premier Benazir Bhutto`s government.


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