On terror trail

WHERE is Osama bin Laden? That is the million-dollar question — the Al Qaeda chief has a $50 million bounty on his head — haunting the US, and many others around the world. From US President George W Bush to Pakistan’s Pervez Musharraf to Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai, many have from time to time offered their take on the whereabouts of the Al Qaeda chief. However, little has come out of these theories.

Now CIA chief Porter Goss has joined the debate by claiming he has an "excellent idea" where the world’s most wanted man is hiding. Goss told Time magazine that although CIA knew of Bin Laden’s whereabouts, it was constrained by the problem of "dealing with sanctuaries in sovereign states". Goss’s Time interview is sure to generate lot of heat and dust in and outside US. It comes on the heels of the row created by the comments of Zalmay Khalilzad, the outgoing US envoy to Afghanistan, who slammed Pakistan for failure to capture Bin Laden and Taleban chief Mullah Omar implying they are hiding in Pakistan.

Frankly, Khalilzad’s charges are quite serious and could introduce needless unpleasantness in US-Pak ties. Frankly, Pakistan has gone to great lengths to crack down on extremist groups and catch terror suspects after it joined the US-led "war on terror". In fact, the Pakistani government has been so relentless in its campaign that it has been accused by opposition groups of being dictated by Washington.

President Musharraf narrowly missed three serious attempts on his life. After all this, it’s unreasonable to accuse Islamabad of not doing enough to capture Al Qaeda leaders. When combined operations by US, Afghan and Pak forces have failed to unearth Bin Laden, how can Islamabad be singled out for the blame? If Al Qaeda mastermind has eluded capture so far, US agencies are as much responsible as their Afghan and Pak counterparts.

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