Pakistan backtracks on bin Laden immunity

Sept. 6, 2006 at 7:59 AM
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NEW YORK, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- The government of Pakistan said a military spokesman had been misquoted by ABC News that Osama bin Laden would not face arrest if found in Pakistan.

Tuesday, in a telephone interview with the network, military spokesman Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan spoke of a treaty Pakistan had enacted with tribal leaders sympathetic to the Taliban and al-Qaida in the North Waziristan area.

Asked if bin Laden would be arrested if found in the area, Sultan said: "No, as long as one is staying like a peaceful citizen, one would not be taken into custody. "

Soon after the story broke, the Pakistani ambassador to the United States, Mahmud Ali Durrani, issued a statement trying to clarify national policy on bin Laden.

"If he is in Pakistan, today or any time later, he will be taken into custody and brought to justice," Durrani said.

Meanwhile, former White House counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke told ABC the North Waziristan pact was bad news.

"What this means is that the Taliban and al-Qaida leadership have effectively carved out a sanctuary inside Pakistan," Clarke said.

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