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Musharraf Says al-Qaida Fleeing Pakistan - 2004-08-16

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf, a key ally in the U.S.-led war on terror, says terrorists linked to the al-Qaida network are being forced to flee Pakistan.

Speaking on state-run television, President Musharraf said Pakistan's security forces have made great progress against al-Qaida.

Mr. Musharraf says that foreign terrorists in Pakistan are on the run and are leaving the country to relocate elsewhere in the world. He said Pakistani authorities are targeting what he called "the masterminds" and other sources of al-Qaida terrorist activities in the country.

If these masterminds are caught, he said, then 50 to 75 percent of Pakistan's terrorism problems will be solved.

The president, switching between Urdu and English, also dismissed criticism that his anti-terror policies were the result of foreign pressure.

"I am not the kind of person who gets dictated [to]," he said. "I have my mind and I have the courage to stand by it in front of anybody in the world. Let that be very clear."

In recent weeks, Pakistani police and intelligence forces have arrested at least 20 suspected al-Qaida operatives, including high-ranking foreigners, in a series of raids across the country.

Extremists linked to al-Qaida are blamed for a string of terror attacks in the country during the past year, including two unsuccessful attempts to kill President Musharraf and another against Prime Minister-designate Shaukat Aziz.