A pro-Taliban leader in Pakistan's tribal area on Sunday said that Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and fugitive Taliban militant leader Mullah Omar were "not enemies of Pakistan."
Addressing a rally near Khar, the main town of Bajaur tribal district bordering Afghanistan, Maulana Faqir Mohammad said that U.S. President George W. Bush was the "biggest enemy" of Pakistan.
"America is the biggest terrorist in the world and the current war in Pakistan had been imposed as a consequence of American policy," Mohammad, who is also a Muslim cleric, said.
"As compared to Pakistani rulers, Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar are the biggest well-wishers of Pakistan. They are not enemies of Pakistan," the cleric said.
"U.S. president Bush is the biggest enemy of Pakistan as Pakistani rulers' backing of Bush had caused grave harm to the country," Mohammad said, referring to the close alliance between Washington and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in the U.S.-led "war on terror."
Mohammad said that the "Mujahedeen (holy warriors) had the right to wage jihad (holy war) against the rulers in the nook and corners of the country as a result of continued operations against them.
"We do not want to capture the government, but we want imposition of Islamic system in the country."
Addressing a press conference in December Mohammad had said that bin Laden could be in "some safe area inside Afghanistan," adding: "If he comes to Bajaur, we will give him a warm welcome."
Mohammad's relatively new umbrella group, United Taliban Movement of Pakistan, is said to have been established to unite Taliban activities in the semi-autonomous tribal belt and other parts of northwestern Pakistan.
Pakistani forces have fought increasingly fierce battles against Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants in the tribal belt since 2003.
The Taliban were ousted from power in Afghanistan by a U.S.-led invasion in November 2001, shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks blamed on bin Laden.
Musharraf has been seen in Washington as a bulwark against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, but northwestern Pakistan has seen the worst of a wave of violence blamed on Al-Qaeda and Taliban rebels that has swept the country in recent months.