US commander’s remarks highly irresponsible: Lt. Gen. Safdar

The News, April 21, 2005
US commander’s remarks highly irresponsible: Safdar
By Behroz Khan

PESHAWAR: Describing as "highly irresponsible" remarks reportedly made by Lt-Gen David Barno, commander of the American forces in Afghanistan that Pakistan planning a new offensive against militants along the border, Corps Commander Peshawar Lt-Gen Safdar Hussain said on Wednesday it was not true.

"It is only speculation that terrorists are in North Waziristan. We are gathering intelligence but there is no report on the basis of which I can begin an operation," Safdar told reporters. Safdar said the US general had no jurisdiction to interfere in our affairs. "This is an outcome of his own imagination that preparations for military operation are going on in North Waziristan Agency." He said there was no such preparation and there is no need for it because we don’t have any information about the presence of any foreign terrorists in North Waziristan.

Safdar said he condemned the statement of the US commander and considers it unwarranted and irresponsible. He said all hideouts of the terrorists have been busted and they are on the run.

He said that Barno had been informed about the infiltration and smuggling of weapons and ammunition from Afghanistan and asked to increase the number of troops on the Afghan side to effectively check the trend.

"There is no organised base of terrorists. They are on the run. I will not let them reorganise," Safdar said. Safdar said there was hardly any area in the entire tribal belt lacking the presence of Pakistan armed forces. He ruled out the possibility of Osama bin Laden’s presence on the Pakistani side of the Pak-Afghan border.

"He (Osama) is not here. His security network is not capable of hiding him from us. And our deployment is so effective that no terrorist could risk hiding on our side of the border," said Safdar. Pakistan Army, he said, has established as many as 669 posts on this side of the border to check infiltration from Afghanistan.

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