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February 15, 2002
0440 IST

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Daniel Pearl possibly alive: Musharraf

T V Parasuram in Washington

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on Thursday dismissed claims by the alleged abductor of Daniel Pearl that he was dead and said that the American journalist was "possibly alive".

Asked by reporters at the National Press Club whether Pearl was "alive or not", Musharraf said: "It is a million dollar question. I think if he was not alive, with all the pressure we are putting, we would have got his body from somewhere. So, I think he is possibly alive. And though Sheikh Omar has said he is not, I don't believe him," Musharraf said.

"He has been switching statements a number of times. He may be trying to take us off the track... I hope and pray he (Pearl) is alive and that we get to him," he said.

"It is regrettable, it is condemnable, it is most tragic that Pearl is in the custody of these extremists," the president added.

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