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Musharraf Not Worried About Death Threats - 2004-03-28

Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, is downplaying concerns about his safety, saying he is not losing any sleep over recent terrorist threats against his life.

President Musharraf says he is not worried about threats against him, which were made last week in a tape said to be the voice of al Qaida's number-two leader, Ayman al Zawahiri. The Pakistani leader's comments were featured in an interview broadcast by ABC television. "For heaven's sake, just one tape. Let us not be excited. Just one tape, which we can - even if he is alone, with Osama [bin Laden], somewhere in the mountain, he can make that tape and issue it, and we get excited and worried. What is the worry? They can never take over," he said.

He added that he is confident he, personally, has nothing to fear. "I do not have any sleepless nights, by the way. I am very comfortable. We will handle the situation, and I am very sure nothing will happen," he said.

President Musharraf survived two assassination attempts in December. He says there are still al Qaida remnants in the South Waziristan tribal region, but that he would like to eliminate all of them. Pakistani government troops launched a military offensive there nearly two weeks ago. More than 50 suspected terrorists and a significant number of Pakistan troops have died in the clashes.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani leader added that, as a Muslim, he is offended that al Qaida terrorism network leader Osama bin Laden would invoke Islam. "We are all Muslims here. And he is just, for nothing, misusing the name of Islam, bringing a bad name to the religion," he said.

President Musharraf also repeated denials that the Pakistani government or military were involved in a recently-discovered nuclear proliferation network run by Abdul Qadeer Khan. Before the network was broken up earlier this year, it sold nuclear secrets to Libya, Iran and North Korea.