Musharraf Lashes Out at Karzai Over Data on Rebels

Special to The Times

President Pervez Musharraf accused his Afghan counterpart of being "totally oblivious" about the situation on the border of their two nations, where skirmishes between Pakistani army units and pro-Taliban militants continued Sunday.

In an interview on CNN's "Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer," an irritated Musharraf responded to contentions by the Afghan government that it provided Pakistan with intelligence indicating that former Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar and key associates were hiding on the Pakistani side of the border.

"We've already gone through it, this list. Two-thirds of it is months old, and it is outdated, and there is nothing," Musharraf said in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. "The location that they are talking of Mullah Omar is nonsense. There's nobody there. We've gone there exactly and seen that there are families living there, and there's no sign of Mullah Omar. This also seems to be very, very old information."

Musharraf also suggested that elements of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government were attempting to embarrass Pakistan during the visit by President Bush, who stopped in Islamabad on Saturday.

"I am totally disappointed with their intelligence, and I feel there is a very, very deliberate attempt to malign Pakistan by some agents, and President Karzai is totally oblivious of what is happening in his own country," Musharraf said.

He demanded that Karzai's intelligence agents "pass the numbers, pass the intelligence immediately, on occurrence. Don't wait for months for a presidential visit to hand over these things."

There was no immediate response from the Afghan government.

Musharraf's comments came as Pakistani security forces occupied government buildings and installations in the troubled town of Miram Shah, the administrative headquarters of the North Waziristan tribal region where fighting overnight killed as many as 45 militants and wounded scores of others, government officials said.

A senior military official said the militants were holding out in a small pocket of Miram Shah bazaar, directing occasional fire at security forces. Pakistani army spokesman Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan said in Islamabad that five troops had been killed in the clashes.

The fighting broke out in Miram Shah after pro-Taliban tribesmen Saturday morning occupied the government buildings and also forced shopkeepers to close down their businesses.

Officials said Pakistani forces had eliminated the militants occupying the government buildings after a nightlong battle in which Cobra helicopter gunships were also engaged.

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Times wire services were used in compiling this report.

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