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Thursday, 29 August, 2002, 08:13 GMT 09:13 UK
Musharraf warns against Iraq attack
Pervez Musharraf
Musharraf believes Bin Laden is dead
The President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, has said a United States attack on Iraq would "alienate the Muslim world".

General Musharraf warned that such a step would have "very negative repercussions".

In an interview with the BBC's Today Programme, the Pakistani leader said that although he was on the side of America, he believed an attack on Baghdad to be ill-advised.

"It is already dangerous that all political disputes at the moment all around the world are unfortunately involving Muslims," he said.


This will have very negative repercussions around the Islamic world

Pervez Musharraf
"Muslims are feeling that they are on the receiving end everywhere, so there is a feeling of alienation."

He said the region had enough on its hands already, and could not afford to get involved in anything else.

"This will have very negative repercussions around the Islamic world," he said.

Mr Musharraf said invading Iraq would increase support for Osama Bin Laden and trigger a huge increase in anti-American sentiment.

He dismissed as "a perception in the media" claims that the United States wanted him to act more decisively against al-Qaeda.

"We are certainly assisting them all the way," he said. "We've suffered casualties."

Asked whether the Pakistani people opposed his allegiance to the United States, Mr Musharraf said: "We are doing everything in national interest and I think the vast majority in Pakistan understand this."

Bin Laden

General Musharraf also said that he thought that Osama bin Laden was probably dead.

"Most likely he's dead," he said. "Most likely. It's a guess. I can't say."

But he said Bin Laden was definitely not in Pakistan.

The al-Qaeda leader's large contingent of bodyguards and the price on his head would certainly have led to the alarm being raised as soon as he crossed the border, General Musharraf said.

He said al-Qaeda itself had been dealt a mortal blow.

"I don't think they can develop an infrastructure of the kind that existed before, especially if there is stability in Afghanistan," he said.

However, he did say that there were indications that members of al-Qaeda were active in some Pakistani cities.

And he added that foreigners - possibly al-Qaeda members - were involved in recent attacks in Pakistan on foreign targets and Christians.


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29 Aug 02 | South Asia
29 Aug 02 | Middle East
28 Aug 02 | Politics
27 Aug 02 | Middle East
27 Aug 02 | Americas
27 Aug 02 | Business
26 Aug 02 | Middle East
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