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Thursday, 4 October, 2001, 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK
Pakistan says terror evidence 'strong'
Bin Laden supporters in Pakistan
Supporters of Bin Laden in Pakistan are ready to fight for him
Pakistan says there is enough evidence against Osama Bin Laden for him to face trial in connection with the 11 September terror attacks on the United States.

This material certainly provides sufficient basis for indictment in a court of law

Pakistani spokesman
The announcement comes the day after Pakistan was presented with evidence from the US about Bin Laden's role in the attacks, in which more than 6,000 people were killed.

"This material certainly provides sufficient basis for indictment in a court of law," Riaz Mohammad Khan, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, told journalists in Islamabad.

Pakistan's President, General Pervez Musharraf, has insisted that Pakistan should see proof of Bin Laden's guilt before any military action is taken in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan's ruling Taleban has been sheltering Saudi-born Bin Laden since 1996.

President Pervez Musharraf
Musharraf insisted on proof of Bin Laden's involvement
Mr Khan's comments come as UK Prime Minister Tony Blair prepares to visit Pakistan as part of an intensive diplomatic effort to shore up support for military action against the Taleban.

Mr Khan also said the evidence linked Bin Laden to other attacks, although he did not say which ones.

And he declined to say if the evidence provided by the US was strong enough to justify military action against the Taleban and Bin Laden's al Qaeda network.

Washington has consistently refused requests from the Taleban to be shown the evidence against Bin Laden.

Mr Khan said Pakistan would not pass the evidence on to the Taleban.

Intense pressure

Pakistan has long been considered a close ally of the Taleban and is the only government that still recognises its legitimacy.

Pro-Bin Laden protest
Many Pakistanis still back Bin Laden
But it has come under intense pressure from the US to co-operate in its war against global terrorism.

Pakistan, wary that a substantial minority of its citizens support Bin Laden, has given the US military support, but has not agreed to let US troops be stationed on Pakistani territory.

In return, the US has dropped sanctions against Pakistan.

Post-Taleban deals

President Musharraf said on Wednesday that he believed only a broad-based, multi-ethnic government could succeed in Afghanistan if the ruling Taleban authorities were ousted from power.

General Musharraf made the comments during an address to ministers and heads of the armed forces.

The BBC Islamabad correspondent says this sounds similar to the kind of post-Taleban administration being discussed by members of the US-led coalition against terrorism.

Western diplomats have been courting the former Afghan King, Zahir Shah, and the opposition Northern Alliance have indicated they would be ready to work with him.

The 86-year old former monarch, who was deposed in 1973, lives in exile in Rome.

The former king has welcomed General Musharraf's invitation to send a representative to Islamabad for talks.

The BBC's Susannah Price
"The Prime Minister's visit to Pakistan will be short but significant"
Riaz Mohammad Khan, Pakistan government spokesman
"We are not trying to strike any bargains"
See also:

25 Sep 01 | South Asia
Pakistan warns of Afghan instability
21 Sep 01 | South Asia
Pakistan protests turn violent
25 Sep 01 | South Asia
The wild border town of Quetta
27 Sep 01 | South Asia
Pakistan fears Kashmir fallout
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