Pakistan and the US were closing in on al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden about five years ago but suddenly lost track of him and now it was not known whether the world’s most wanted terrorist was dead or alive, according to former President Pervez Musharraf.

“It was some five years back when there was some intelligence that got picked up of a broad location...Then suddenly, we lost track,” Mr. Musharraf, currently on a lecture tour of the US, told a near—capacity crowd at a college at Sioux Falls in South Dakota.

The former military ruler described this as a failure of Pakistani and US intelligence and said they did not now know whether bin Laden was alive. “I don’t know whether he’s dead or alive,” he said.

Mr. Musharraf made the comments in response to a question from a student during an event on Friday.

He conceded that he committed several blunders in the years leading up to the 9/11 attacks in the US but he also took credit for several accomplishments, including improving Pakistan’s economy and introducing “an essence of democracy” to the country.

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