Pakistan Denies Complicity in bin Laden Case
VOA News May 09, 2011
Pakistan's prime minister is rejecting claims that the killing of Osama bin Laden in a U.S. raid showed his country was complicit or incompetent in allowing the al-Qaida leader to hide out in Pakistan.
During a speech to parliament Monday, Yousuf Raza Gilani called such allegations absurd. He said it was "disingenuous" for anyone to insinuate that Pakistani authorities, including the country's spy agency, were aligned with al-Qaida. He voiced support for the military and the spy agency, which he said was a national asset.
Shared intelligence failure
In his first public remarks since U.S. special forces killed bin Laden last week, Gilani also admitted it had been an "intelligence failure" that bin Laden went undetected for so long, but he said it was a failure shared by countries across the world. Gilani ordered an investigation into how the al-Qaida leader was able to hide out in Pakistan. A top army general will lead the probe.
U.S. special forces killed bin Laden during a raid on a compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad last week. Prime Minister Gilani said the terrorist leader's death was proper justice.
He also told lawmakers that the country's priority is to eliminate terrorism, noting that 30,000 people and 5,000 members of the security forces have been killed in the fight. He said al-Qaida has declared war on Pakistan.
US raid criticized
Mr. Gilani also criticized the U.S. raid, warning that such unilateral actions on Pakistani soil run the risk of "serious consequences." But he added that Pakistan attaches high importance to its relations with the United States. He said the U.S.-Pakistan partnership serves mutual interests and is based on respect and trust.
The prime minister's comments came as members of the country's main opposition party, led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, condemned the U.S. operation as a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik told Arab television station Al-Arabiya earlier Monday that Pakistan knew of the U.S. raid 15 minutes after it had begun, but did not know it was targeting bin Laden.
US, Pakistani relations
Relations between the United States and Pakistan were already strained before the al-Qaida leader's death, following a series of U.S. drone attacks against militants in Pakistan's northwest and the detention of a CIA contractor who shot and killed two Pakistanis in Lahore in January.
Potentially adding to tensions, Pakistani media last week reported what they said was the name of the undercover CIA station chief in Islamabad.
The U.S. embassy declined to comment, and U.S. news agencies said Monday the name reported was incorrect. Last year, the CIA pulled its then-station chief out of Pakistan after he was named by Pakistani media.
Bin Laden protests
Meanwhile, hundreds of militants in northwest Pakistan held a rally to protest the killing of bin Laden.
Officials say at least 500 followers of militant commander Maulvi Nazir and some locals demonstrated in Wana, the main town in the South Waziristan tribal area.
Officials say the militants threatened to take revenge for the al-Qaida leader's death by carrying out attacks against Pakistan and the U.S.
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