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Musharraf tells U.S.: Stay out of Pakistan

  • Story Highlights
  • Pakistan President tells newspaper that U.S. military should keep out of Pakistan
  • Musharraf: If they come without permission, it's against our sovereignty
  • Says his military has the experience to work border regions, find key al Qaeda figures
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has made it clear that a U.S. military mission to capture Osama bin Laden or other top al Qaeda leaders on Pakistani soil would be unwelcome and "against the sovereignty of Pakistan."

President Musharraf told the Singapore Straits Times that his military has the experience to operate in the mountainous terrain near the Afghan border and if the United States went in they would "regret that day."

The New York Times reported last Sunday that the Bush administration is considering expanding covert operations in the western part of Pakistan to shore up support for Musharraf's government and to find bin Laden and his second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

"Nobody will come here until we ask them to come and we haven't asked them," Musharraf told the Strait Times this week.

Strait Times reporter Anthony Paul asked Musharraf: "If the Americans came, would you treat that as an invasion?"

"Certainly," Musharraf said. "If they come without our permission, that's against the sovereignty of Pakistan."

He said if there is good intelligence that bin Laden is hiding in Pakistan "the methodology of getting him will be discussed together and we'll attack the target together."

"I do not lead a war on terror on behalf of the United States, but on behalf of Pakistan," Musharraf told French newspaper Le Figaro in an interview published Saturday.

"It is in Pakistan's interest to eradicate terrorism and extremism. This is what the Pakistani people wish, it does not want terrorists nor extremists ... We are leading our own war, even though Pakistan's interests on that point are shared with those of the United States and the coalition in Afghanistan."

Musharraf told CNN's Wolf Blitzer last month that "it is Pakistan's forces which will act" if there is "actionable intelligence" that senior al Qaeda leaders are in Pakistan, although he would consider U.S. assistance.

In the latest interview, Musharraf noted that U.S. forces were having trouble chasing al Qaeda in similar terrain in southern Afghanistan.

"The United States seems to think that what our army cannot do, they can do," he said. "This is a very wrong perception. I challenge anybody to come into our mountains. They would regret that day. It's not easy there."

Musharraf said every tribes in Pakistan's FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) "has its own armory and they don't like intrusions into their privacy at all."

He said the British never dared go there and the Pakistan government waited 50 years after gaining independence to enter.

"It was only after we dealt with them and reached an agreement with them that we moved in the army in 2001," he said.

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"We do operate in these areas. It's within the capacity of the Pakistan armed forces. And yet some people think U.S. or coalition forces from Afghanistan will come in and they will hunt him down...This is a misperception.

"It's better if they ask some military or intelligence commander of their own whether their army, their people, coming into our mountains will operate better than our army." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

From CNN's Alan Duke

All About Pervez MusharrafOsama bin LadenPakistan

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