Islamabad: Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah
Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday dismissed US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton`s assertion that Osama bin Laden is in the country as
"speculations", saying Washington should not doubt Islamabad`s
intention to act against the al-Qaeda leadership.
"This is not the first time that this has been said
and our position has been consistent. These are speculations,"
Qureshi said during a joint news conference with North
Atlantic Treaty Organisation Secretary-General Anders Fogh
Responding to a question on Clinton`s allegation that
the top al-Qaeda leadership is in Pakistan and some elements
in the government know this, Qureshi said: "Our position is
that we are partners and allies (with the US) to achieve the
same objective... Our sacrifices are second to none, so
Pakistan`s intentions should not be doubted."
"If there is credible information available (on the
whereabouts of bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders), then it
should be shared with Pakistan," he said.
Clinton ruffled feathers in Islamabad by maintaining
over the past few days that elements in the Pakistani
government know where Osama is hiding inside the country.
She said the US will not be satisfied till it gets the
world`s most wanted fugitive.
"I think the elements in the government do (know the
whereabouts of bin Laden)," she said in an interview.
Clinton said the US and its allies were getting closer
to bin Laden but that she "won`t be satisfied until we get it
In remarks that underlined the trust deficit between
the two countries, Clinton said the "principal terrorist
threat to the US" emanates from Pakistan.
However, Qureshi asserted that the Pakistan government
was not aware of the current whereabouts of bin Laden.
"If we were aware of where the top al-Qaeda leadership
is in Pakistan, by now we would have reached them because we
do not consider them friends of Pakistan or friends of peace,"
"They have been disturbing the peace of Pakistan, the
region and the globe," Qureshi said.
Qureshi also said during the recent Foreign Minister-
level talks, India had focussed only on its concerns related
to terrorism and the 2008 Mumbai attacks even though Pakistan
faces Mumbai-like incidents almost daily.
Describing the so-called "Cold Start doctrine" as
"irrational", Qureshi said he hoped India`s political
leadership, civil society and intellectuals will discourage
any move or doctrine that endangers peace in South Asia.
He said Pakistan is prepared to mount a "swift and
effective" response to any attack on the country.
India and Pakistan need to avoid an arms race in the
region and resolve outstanding issues so that they can focus
on more pressing issues like tackling poverty and boosting
socio-economic development, Qureshi said.
Qureshi also contended that India had not responded to
several proposals made by Pakistan during 1974-1998 to keep
South Asia free of nuclear weapons.
"As a consequence, we were forced to respond to Indian
nuclear tests which were followed by highly provocative
statements made by senior political leaders in May 1998," he
Addressing the seminar organised by the South Asian
Strategic Stability Institute yesterday, Defence Secretary Lt
Gen (retired) Syed Athar Ali said the idea of fighting short
intense battles under a nuclear overhang, as envisaged by the
Cold Start doctrine, is dangerous as it "underestimates the
nuclear reality of South Asia" and the "Pakistani resolve to
deter any future war...through all means available to it".
The "upward spiral" from sub-conventional war to "super
critical" or nuclear warfare cannot be ruled out because "any
future war in South Asia between India and Pakistan cannot
remain indefinitely limited in either scope, time, space or
results," Ali said.