ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistan yesterday rejected allegations by America's spy chief that it was a refuge for terrorist leaders and demanded that his intelligence networks share information on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and other top al-Qaeda figures.
The statements Thursday by National Intelligence Director John Negroponte that Pakistan was a haven for al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters were "incorrect," Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said.
"In breaking the back of al-Qaeda, Pakistan has done more than any other country in the world," ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said. "The proper way to do this would be to share the intelligence with us."
Negroponte said that despite Pakistan's vital role in the war on terrorism, leaders of both al-Qaeda and Afghanistan's former ruling Taliban militia were sheltering in its lawless frontier areas, largely beyond reach of U.S. or Pakistani troops.
NATO and the Afghan government also say Taliban and al-Qaeda guerrillas are launching attacks on their forces in Afghanistan from Pakistan. Violence rose sharply in Afghanistan in 2006, with fighting killing about 4,000 people in what was the deadliest year since the U.S.-led coalition swept the Taliban from power in 2001.
In his testimony to the Senate intelligence committee, Negroponte said that "eliminating the safe haven that the Taliban and other extremists have found in Pakistan's tribal areas is not sufficient to end the insurgency in Afghanistan, but it is necessary."
U.S. officials have previously said they believe bin Laden and other top al-Qaeda leaders are taking refuge in the region, likely on the Pakistani side of the border. Pakistan has repeatedly rejected such claims.
Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao, the top civilian security official in Pakistan, said U.S. intelligence agencies had not shared any "specific intelligence with Pakistan on the whereabouts of al-Qaeda or the Taliban."
"We always act swiftly whenever any intelligence is shared with us," he said. "There are no al-Qaeda safe havens in Pakistan."