Zardari says Osama dead

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has said that al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden is dead, but has sought more international aid to expand military operations against Taliban, in areas where Americans believe he may be hiding.

Zardari, who completed one year in office on Wednesday, and his party-led government are under pressure from the United States and international community besides India to act against the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks.

In an interview to the BBC to mark his first year in office as President, Zardari's main emphasis was on Pakistan's ailing economy and to make a pitch for much more enhanced assistance from the West.

"If the world's armies and the world's budgets cannot look after (the Afghan) side of the border, give me more time and give me the resources that I need and we will deliver," he said.

On Osama, Zardari, however, did not put forward any evidence or details in support of his claim that he was no longer alive.

His remarks on Osama being dead run contrary to American belief that al-Qaeda chief is alive and is hiding in Pakistan's restive tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

Zardari also said the new US policy that lumps Afghanistan and Pakistan together is a mistake. The 'Af-Pak' terminology is wrong and the two countries need to be treated differently, he said.

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