Pakistan's UN Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon on Tuesday called Faisal Shahzad, the suspect in the Times Square bomb attempt, a "misguided soul" who had acted alone, and he disagreed with Obama administration officials' claim that the accused was trained by the Pakistani Taliban.
In an interview on CBS television on Monday, he said that General David Petraeus, the US commander in Afghanistan, "had it right that this was the act of a lone man."
Petraeus stated (prior to the administration's claims on Sunday) that Shahzad, the 30 year old US citizen of Pakistani descent, operated as a "lone wolf" who did not work with other terrorists. But senior White House officials said on Sunday that the Pakistani Taliban backed the failed Times Square bombing.
On CBS' "Face the Nation," US Presidential adviser John Brennan accused Shahzad of working with a Pakistani Taliban group closely allied with al Qaeda. Although Ambassador Haroon said that the Obama administration may have other evidence, he said, "All I am saying is that the evidence I have points in one direction: It does not have its signature of the Taliban." "This is not, and I repeat not, a Pakistan terror threat," the Pakistani envoy said, while underscoring the fact that Shahzad is not a Pakistani citizen.
In making that point, he reaffirmed Pakistan's firm commitment to eradicate the menace of terrorism. Haroon also took issue with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's claim that some in Pakistani government know about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and other senior al Qaeda, saying he believes no one knows where those individuals were. If the Pakistani government knew about the location of Osama Bin Laden, they would have gone after him, he added.
Dealing with the Shahzad's case, the ambassador said that the attempted Times Square bombing was a "horrible act" by that "misguided soul" who might have been inspired or aided by other, and not by the Taliban, who had denied any responsibility.
"If this is the standard of the TTP, the I think there is nothing to worry about," he said. The attempt was botched to such a degree that it was "not even funny," the envoy said.
Haroon said that the reason he believes that the Taliban have no hand was because this militant group has carried out so many successful bombings inside Pakistan, killing and maiming thousands of innocent people.
The mixture that Shahzad had prepared to bomb Times Square was not the one used by the Taliban, who do not use propane. What Shahzad had done was something that one could pick up on the internet, he said, adding there was nothing professional about it. Besides, what was left in the rigged car was not a bomb; it was an incendiary device without a trigger.
He was asked that why the Taliban had denied responsibility for the bomb attempt in New York, on which the ambassador remarked, "Because this makes them a laughing stock!" Haroon said even though Shahzad is an American citizen, Pakistan feels responsible because it was an ally in the war on terrorism, which more was beneficial to his country as it was the victim of that menace.
About Clinton's claim that some Pakistanis having knowledge about Osama bin Laden's whereabouts, Haroon said that if that was so, the Pakistan Army would have hunted for him. And if the Americans had any idea, they would sent missiles from drones hovering over the rugged Pak-Afghan border.
In his well-reasoned arguments, Ambassador Haroon reminded the American audience that Pakistan had captured and handed over the maximum number of terror suspects to the United States.
"No one comes even close," he said. And in the terror war, the Pakistan Army had suffered more casualties than the NATO forces in Afghanistan combined. Pakistan, he added, had to face some "brutal and terrible" moments with the extremists and there was no reason to link Islamabad with them.
Pakistan, the ambassador said, had gone out of the way and will continue to do so to "finish this problem". He said that the Pakistani army, not the US military, will have to decide when and how to send forces to North Waziristan. The Pakistan Army, whose resources are limited, needed eight to nine months to encircle the region before launching an operation.
In the interview, Haroon also repeated his calls for a fatwa to be issued by regional clerics against suicide bombers.
"Why don't they issue a fatwa, which is the Islamic way of doing it, saying that suicide bombing of innocents is un-Islamic," he asked.
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