Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, reported last week to have died, is alive and hiding in Afghanistan, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said in an interview published in The Times.
‘It’s not a hunch,’ Musharraf said, speaking from a hotel in New York.
The newspaper, without directly quoting Pakistan’s military ruler, said he believes bin Laden is hiding in the eastern Afghan province of Kunar.
‘Kunar province borders on Bajaur Agency. We know there are some pockets of Al-Qaeda in Bajaur Agency. We have set a good intelligence organization,’ he told The Times.
This somewhat correlates with the upraded activity in Bajaur, as reported by Counter Terrorism Blog, and Bill Roggio at Fourth Rail. If Bin Laden’s been forced to move by the Waziristan pact, then to Bajaur, and then exiting to Kunar via the Khyber pass is a reasonable assumption. This also corresponds to the ISAF forces movingÂ east, and the current blockade and actions at the mouth of the Korengal valley.Â I do believe we are getting close folks, I hope I am not wrong.
More from the Pakistan Observer report:
Interviewed at his hotel in New York, General Musharraf said he believed that bin Laden was in Afghanistan, and suggested a possible link with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the Afghan warlord. Brandishing a UN report highlighted with coloured markers, the President read out its finding that the insurgency in Afghanistan â€œis being conducted mostly by Afghans operating inside Afghanistanâ€™s bordersâ€.
In Kunar province it is Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who is operating,â€ General Musharraf said, adding: â€œThere must be some linkages.â€
It’s also notable that the Pakistan government recognizes that it will take time to see whether the truce is successful or a failure, and they are contemplating rolling it to other areas, such as South Waziristan based on results. I suspect the results will become clearer after foreign registration efforts are done. These start with a pilot in Chitral on 10/1, and then all regions on 10/15.
Just looking at logistics, I would expect to see moving and shaking if it’s not working near the end of October – December. During that period many of the back-doors will alsoÂ become closed by snow and winter.
Notice the timing of the registration of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, and this announcement from UNCHR at IRNA:
Afghanistan this year will temporarily suspend next month.
The repatriation will be suspended on October 14 and Afghans wishing to return with UNHCR assistance this year must do so by 13 October 2006, a UNHCR statement said.
UNHCR will resume its repatriation season in March 2007.
Starting next year, UNHCR assistance will only be given to Afghans returning with Proof of Registration (PoR) cards that will be issued after the registration exercise of Afghan citizens living in Pakistan that runs from 15 October 29 December 2006.
Only Afghans who were counted in the Pakistan government census of Afghan citizens in Pakistan from February-March 2005 will be eligible for the registration exercise.Â A UNHCR survey shows that Pakistan still hosts some 2.6 million Afghan refugees, the biggest number of refugees in any country.
It looks as if we have some planned, coordinated border-control activities here.