Zawahiri is in Pakistan: Clinton
KOLKATA: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday said the United States believed al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri was in Pakistan and she vowed to keep up pressure on Islamabad to find other ‘most-wanted’ militants.
“We want to disable al-Qaeda and we have made a lot of progress in doing that,” Clinton told an audience in India, a week after the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan by US special forces.
“There are several significant leaders still on the run. Zawahiri, who inherited the leadership from Bin Laden is somewhere, we believe, in Pakistan,” she added.Clinton also said the US would continue to press for the arrest of the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) who is wanted over the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
The United States last month offered a $10 million reward for information leading to the conviction of Hafiz Saeed. Clinton said she was ‘well aware’ that the Pakistani government hadnot yet taken steps to help secure Saeed’s conviction.
“We are going to be pushing that. So it’s a way of raising the visibility and pointing out to those who are associated with him that there is a cost for that,” Clinton said of the reward offer.
Clinton, addressing a public forum in Kolkata, said she also appreciated sacrifices by Pakistan, saying that it was the main victim of violence by extremists. —AFP
Asim Yasin adds from Islamabad: Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Monday rejected the reports regarding the presence of Ayman al-Zawahiri in Pakistan and said if there was any information about the key al-Qaeda leader, it should be shared with Islamabad.
She was talking to reporters here at the Parliament House after briefing the meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS). The response of the foreign minister came when she was asked about the statement of US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton who in Kolkata had said the US believed al-Zawahiri was in Pakistan.
The meeting of the PCNS was held under its chairman Mian Raza Rabbani at the Parliament House. Khar briefed the committee about ongoing dialogue between Islamabad and Washington on the new terms of engagement between Pakistan and the United States on the basis of the parliament’s recommendations.
Khar said al-Qaeda was the common enemy of Pakistan and the US. She said talks with the United States at this point could not be termed failure as they were still going on. To a question, she said US officials had been told that drone attacks violated Pakistan’s sovereignty.
About the possibilities sanctions imposed on Pakistan if Nato supply route is not restored, Khar said the Foreign Ministry did not have any information yet on this issue.
Raza Rabbani, while talking to reporters, said there would not be any compromise on the country’s sovereignty. He said the foreign minister briefed the committee about ongoing negotiations between Pakistan and the United States.
He said the US should show respect to the recommendations passed by the parliament. About US statements on drone attacks in Pakistan, Rabbani said the statements of the Pentagon on the drone attacks were only turning the already tense relations into further cloudy. “The committee has rejected the Pentagon statement on drone attacks and described them as an attack on Pakistan’s sovereignty,” Rabbani said.
He said all diplomatic channels were being used against the drone attacks. About the outcome of ongoing negotiations between Pakistan and the United States, Rabbani adopted a cautious approach saying: “There is a need of time to achieve something on the basis of principles”.
Rabbani said the PCNS would meet again today (Tuesday) to take up the agenda of missing persons. “All chiefs of the intelligence agencies have been summoned for today’s meeting to brief the committee on the issue of missing persons,” he added.