Pakistan military denies report on Taliban chief

Last Updated: Thursday, January 20, 2011 - 16:28

Islamabad: Pakistan`s military on Thursday rejected a Washington Post report that Taliban chief Mullah Omar was treated for a heart attack in Pakistan with the help of its intelligence service.

A military spokesman in a statement "strongly contradicted the news item... about the medical treatment of Afghan Taliban Mullah Mohammad Omar at Karachi."

"(The) news is unfounded and concocted to serve vested interests," the statement added.

The Post said the spiritual leader of the Islamist insurgency, who disappeared after the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan, appeared to have suffered a heart attack on January 07 and had been taken to a hospital near Karachi.

The newspaper cited a report by a private intelligence network run by former US security officials, known as "The Eclipse Group," which reportedly said its source was a physician at the hospital.

The report said Pakistan`s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency had "rushed him to a hospital in Karachi, where he was given heparin (an anticoagulant) and operated on," and was released to the ISI after a few days.

Although Pakistan is officially an ally of the international coalition battling the Taliban in Afghanistan, US officials have long accused the ISI of playing a double game.

The ISI is reportedly still close to Omar, whom it backed as the leader of the 1996-2001 Taliban regime in Kabul.

Pakistan has always strongly denied such charges, and the Post quoted its Washington ambassador Husain Haqqani as saying that the Eclipse report "had no basis whatsoever”.

A Taliban spokesman in Afghanistan also denied the report, saying it was a "mere rumour created by our enemies", and said that Omar was "absolutely fine and healthy".

Bureau Report



First Published: Thursday, January 20, 2011 - 16:28

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