Is Mullah Omar Living In Pakistan?

taliban mullah omar over map of quetta pakistan
CBS/AP
Pakistan on Saturday denied an international media report that Taliban chief Mullah Omar, who is on the U.S. most wanted list, is living in Pakistan.

"There has been no evidence about the presence of Mullah Omar in Pakistan," said a government statement released in the capital, Islamabad, shortly after a television report that said Omar was living in the country.

The statement termed the CNN report as "baseless" adding it was a "concocted story and nothing but mere figment of reporters' imagination."

Although Pakistan has repeatedly denied such accusation, the latest one came after CNN reported from Kabul that Omar - whose militia has been fighting U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan - is living in Pakistan, though not in the same area where Osama bin Laden is thought to be.

Quoting unnamed U.S. intelligence source, the CNN report said Omar is believed to be in Pakistan's southwestern city of Quetta "or its environs," while bin Laden was likely in Bajuar, a Pakistani tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Saturday said his country had played a vital role in fighting terrorism after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in America, but he also asked the international community to address the root cause of the problem.

"We have always said that in order to fight terrorism it is necessary to find the root cause of terrorism. It stems from a feeling of deprivation and underdevelopment," he told reporters in Islamabad.

"Innocent people all over the world are loosing their lives to terrorism and we have to fight it collectively," he said, adding "if you have the ownership of a cause, then you fight it sincerely and with determination."

Pakistan is a key ally of the United States in its war on terror, but some Afghan and U.S. officials have alleged that Omar and other top terror leaders like bin Laden were hiding either in Pakistan or near the Pakistan-Afghan border.

The report came two days after Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said in Kabul that Omar was in Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province.

On Saturday, the Pakistani statement said if any intelligence agency had information on Omar's whereabouts, this should have been conveyed to the country through diplomatic channels.

"The fact that such sensitive information is on the media rather than being conveyed through official channels is a good enough indication that it is nothing but an effort to create sensation, and has no reality," the document said.

Pakistan used to be a main supporter of Afghanistan's former Taliban regime, but switched sides after the 9/11 attacks. Since then, Islamabad has arrested more than 700 al Qaeda suspects, including some close associates of bin Laden.