Islamabad, Sept. 11 (Reuters): President Pervez Musharraf, a key player in the “war on terror” since the September 11 attacks in 2001, said today Pakistan was hunting down al Qaida, Taliban and other extremists who remain a threat.
His comments coincided with the airing of a videotape featuring Osama bin Laden and right-hand man Ayman al-Zawahri, both widely believed to be hiding in remote and rugged terrain along the Afghan-Pakistan border.
A voice purportedly that of Zawahri singled out Musharraf, accusing him of “treason” for handing over militants to Washington. Pakistan says it has arrested over 450 militants, many of them Afghans and Arabs, in the last two years.
“We are operating against al Qaida, we are operating against Taliban and we are also operating against sectarian and religious extremism in Pakistan,” Musharraf said in an interview on BBC’s website.
He acknowledged the difficulty in tracking down suspects along the porous border with Afghanistan, and said no government could stamp out sectarian violence completely.
“On both sides of the border, there are places which can be utilised as a sanctuary by extremists,” Musharraf said.
“I do admit that the border is extremely porous... I cannot at all claim that I can seal the entire border where one individual cannot come across the border.”
Afghanistan has been hit by the worst wave of violence since the fall of the Taliban late in 2001, and many of the fighters are believed to be crossing from Pakistan. Sectarian bloodshed in Pakistan is also on the rise, with 53 people dying in a single attack on a Shia mosque.