ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – President Gen. Pervez Musharraf (search) said Thursday that Pakistani forces have destroyed Al Qaeda-linked (search) militants' sanctuaries and communication systems along the Afghan border, but still have no clue as to Usama bin Laden's (search) whereabouts.
Musharraf told reporters that Pakistan — a key ally in the U.S.-led war on terrorism since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States — had captured 700 terror suspects in cities, and "eliminated" hundreds of them in tribal regions on the border.
"We have broken their communication system. We have destroyed their sanctuaries," Musharraf said of militants fighting in the lawless South Waziristan (search) region.
"Now some of them are hiding in mountains. They are not in a position to move in vehicles and go to Lahore or Karachi," he said, referring to two major cities. "They are unable to contact their people. ... They are on the run, we will keep chasing them and we have to eliminate them."
"I'm not saying we have achieved a 100 percent success, but this is definitely a success in the war against terrorism," he added.
Musharraf said this month's launch of U.S. government-funded advertisements on Pakistani television and radio — offering multimillion-dollar rewards for bin Laden and other top terror suspects — did not mean they had information about the Al Qaeda leader's whereabouts.
"Neither they (the Americans) nor we know they are here," he said of the Al Qaeda leaders.
Massive manhunts by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan's army on its side of the rugged frontier have failed to locate bin Laden or his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri (search).
However, Musharraf blamed Al Qaeda for masterminding terrorist attacks in Pakistan, with the help of domestic militant groups.
Musharraf, speaking to journalists at his official residence, also hailed recent progress in the Pakistan-India peace process.
He said the agreement reached last week to start a bus service across the military line dividing the disputed Kashmir region was a "step toward normalization of relations," and demonstrated both sides' flexibility.
But he gave a sober assessment of the prospects of settling the nuclear-armed rival countries' competing claims to Kashmir, over which they've fought wars since independence from Britain in 1947.
Asked if the dispute would be resolved by the end of his term in 2007, Musharraf said: "The desire is there, and definitely we would like to see the resolution of this issue. But there will be no sellout on Kashmir."
He suggested there was more international pressure on India than on Pakistan to strike a Kashmir deal, which he said would have to be acceptable to Kashmiris, Pakistan and India.
"The entire world is putting pressure on India. There is no pressure on us, frankly speaking," he said.
Musharraf played down India's reported bid to buy U.S. Patriot missiles — which Pakistani officials have warned would spark a regional arms race — and voiced optimism that Washington would eventually agree to sell F-16 fighter planes to Pakistan.
Pakistan fears the Patriot air defense system would enable India to repel its missiles, while India has objected to Pakistan's desire for the jets. The argument underlines the fragility of the yearlong peace process.