Kuala Lumpur, Feb. 24 (Reuters): Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said today he was 400 per cent sure Islamabad had not given any nuclear technology to North Korea.
The general-turned-president also said he feared the US was headed for war with Iraq over weapons of mass destruction.
Musharraf, who has allied with the US in its global war on terror, said his troops were doing their best to mop up al Qaida forces in Pakistan, and he believed Osama bin Laden — leader of the radical Islamic network — was in hiding in rugged Afghanistan.
“I give a 400 per cent guarantee that there has been no co-operation with anyone in the world, (let alone) North Korea,” Musharraf said when asked about reports that Islamabad had supplied the secretive communist state with nuclear know-how in exchange for technology to develop missile delivery systems.
Pakistan carried out nuclear tests in 1998.
“We have designs far superior to North Korea,” he said. “We work on solid fuel and they operate on liquid fuel. We don’t need to exchange anything with them.”
Reclusive North Korea has triggered a crisis by kicking out International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, pulling out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and saying it is on track to restart a nuclear plant that could be used to develop plutonium for making bombs.
Musharraf said Pakistan had not proliferated its nuclear technology. “I have not found any proof whatsoever that Pakistan has ever proliferated or passed any kind of information to anyone in the world,” Musharraf said on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement (Nam) summit in Malaysia.
“I have given the guarantee that we will not proliferate any kind of nuclear or missile technology to anybody in the world.”
Musharraf, who took power in a military coup in October 1999, said he feared concerns over the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction could lead to war in Iraq.
He said his troops were too busy tracking down al Qaida militants and guarding Pakistan’s eastern border with India to take part in any action in West Asia. In rare comments on Osama bin Laden, Musharraf said he believed the Saudi-born militant was hiding in Afghanistan.
“It is hard (to find him) because the area of the entire Afghan terrain is mountainous and it is very easy to hide and just disappear,” he said.
The presence of sympathisers and the absence of proper law enforcement authorities in Afghanistan could be helping the cause of bin Laden, accused of masterminding the September 11 2001, attacks on the US.
Musharraf said it would be difficult for a man with more than 100 bodyguards and followers to find hiding places in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan.
Musharraf said his troops were doing their utmost to track down al Qaida activists on Pakistani territory and dismissed reports that election victories of Islamic parties in provinces along the Afghan border had curbed military action.