NATIONAL

Pak. got missiles from N. Korea: Musharraf

ISLAMABAD Sept. 26. In candid comments on charges of nuclear proliferation and alleged re-grouping of Al-Qaeda and Taliban remnants in tribal areas of the country, the Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, has for the first time admitted that North Korea has provided surface to air missiles to his country.

However, he has been quick to add that they were for "defence" purposes and Pakistan never had any nuclear co-operation with North Korea.

Addressing members of the Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies (CISS) in Ottawa, where he is currently on a two-day official visit, Gen. Musharraf made some blunt observations about the Pak-U.S. joint operations against the Al-Qaeda and said that the U.S. must share the "blame for failed missions".

This is the first time that Pakistan has admitted receiving surface to air missiles.

It is also the first time that Gen. Musharraf has been so sharp in public about the role Pakistan expected to play in the operations against the remnants of Al-Qaeda.

Observers are surprised at Gen. Musharraf's comments, coming as they are, a day after his meeting with the U.S. President, George W. Bush, at New York.

His logic was that the U.S. was so "deeply" involved in the hunt for the Al-Qaeda and the Taliban that it cannot escape responsibility for the blotched missions.

He argued that the border along Afghanistan was long and inhospitable and without high technology it was impossible to achieve the desired results.

"Pakistan has no such devices. We are being assisted by intelligence agencies from next door to here, from the United States. So if anyone is failing, if the ISI is being maligned as failing, then so are the intelligence agencies on the other side because this intelligence operation is being conducted jointly."

Gen. Musharraf sought to assure the audience that Pakistan had never indulged in nuclear proliferation nor would it allow this in future as its command and control system was very tight and the country's strategic assets would never fall into the wrong hands.

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