Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf says the search for Osama bin Laden has gone completely cold, and his nation's intelligence and security forces have no recent information about the whereabouts of the leader of the al-Qaida terrorist network.
General Musharraf, who has been meeting with President Bush and other U.S. officials here in Washington, says in an interview published today (Sunday) that Pakistani forces are aggressively pursuing Osama bin Laden, but have only been able to determine that he is still alive.
Mr. Musharraf says the United States must share responsibility for the failure to track down the al-Qaida leader, because the U.S.-led coalition does not have enough troops in neighboring Afghanistan.
After their meetings at the White House Saturday, Mr. Bush said "there is nobody more dedicated" to tracking down Osama bin Laden than Mr. Musharraf, who has twice survived assassination attempts that reportedly were traced to al-Qaida extremists.
President Musharraf has told reporters he may not step down as the uniformed chief of Pakistan's military forces at the end of this year, as he has promised.
General Musharraf, who seized power in Islamabad in a bloodless coup five years ago, has pledged in the past to leave the army, in order to demonstrate his commitment to restoring full democracy in Pakistan. However, he told reporters here in Washington Saturday that he may retain his dual civilian and military leadership roles for the time being -- in his words, to guarantee "the sustainability" of his policies.
In an interview with the Washington Post, General Musharraf said he has taken many steps to empower women and minorities and to support media freedom, and that "there is total democracy in Pakistan."