U.S. criticizes Pakistan on Taliban leaders Sat Jun 18, 7:24 AM ET
KABUL (Reuters) - The outgoing U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan has suggested that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar has been hiding in Pakistan and sharply criticized Islamabad's failure to act against Taliban leaders.
Zalmay Khalilzad told Afghanistan's Aina Television that a Pakistani TV channel had interviewed a senior Taliban commander, Mullah Akhtar Usmani, at a time when Pakistani officials claimed they did not know the whereabouts of Taliban leaders.
"If a TV station can get in touch with them, how can the intelligence service of a country, which has nuclear bombs and a lot of security and military forces, not find them," Khalilzad said in the interview with Aina broadcast on Friday evening. "Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders should have been in Pakistan," Khalilzad said. "Mr Usmani, who is one of the Taliban leaders, spoke to Pakistani Geo TV, at a time when Pakistani officials claimed that they did not know where they were."
An English transcript of the interview with Aina, which the Afghan-American Khalilzad gave in the Dari language, was made available by the British Broadcasting Corp.
Khalilzad also questioned Pakistan's inability to find Taliban spokesman Abdul Latif Hakimi, who had given interviews from the Pakistani city of Quetta, and repeated a call for Pakistan to do more to track down Taliban figures.
"It is very important for Pakistan to make every effort seriously. Afghanistan's success is for the benefit of Pakistan, too," he said.
Khalilzad praised the efforts of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's government in helping to arrest leaders of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, but added: "We ask them to launch wide-ranging campaigns to detain the Taliban extremists."
On Thursday, Khalilzad, who has since been confirmed as the new U.S. envoy to Iraq, told a news briefing he did not believe fugitive al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden or Mullah Omar were in Afghanistan, but did not make clear where he thought they were.
Khalilzad was responding to comments by Usmani in his interview with Geo broadcast on Wednesday in which he said bin Laden, architect of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States in 2001, was in good health and Omar in direct command of Taliban forces in Afghanistan.
U.S. officials have said in the past that bin Laden was thought to be hiding in the rugged border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Khalilzad has repeatedly upset Pakistan by accusing it of sheltering Taliban militants. On Thursday he said capturing bin Laden required the cooperation between a variety of countries.
Recent weeks have seen a surge in Taliban-linked violence in the Afghan south and east bordering Pakistan, raising fears for the security of parliamentary elections due on Sept. 18.
Pakistan was the main supporter of the Taliban during the group's period in power but became a key ally of the United States in its global war on terror in 2001.
Nevertheless, U.S. and Afghan officials have long complained that the guerrillas have been able to launch attacks in Afghanistan then slip across the border into Pakistan
Is there really any question? Seems Pakistan is only playing ally for self preservation. If they pretend to help us out we let them be, nukes & all.
If they openly defy us they risk Iraqs fate, so they do what any one with half a brain expects, they flatter us with BS while letting their brethren conduct terrorist activities.
Are we that blind or is this politics as usual? :?