PM: Failure to find bin Laden not Pakistan’s alone
Monday, May 9, 2011
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s prime minister defended his nation’s military and intelligence services on Monday and said Pakistan was not solely to blame for the failure to detect Osama bin Laden’s presence in a garrison town close to the capital.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, in his first address to parliament since the covert U.S. raid that killed the al-Qaida chief a week ago, lashed out at allegations Pakistan knew where bin Laden was hiding, though he offered no details on what the country did know about his location. He also warned the U.S. that any unilateral raids in the future would be met with “full force.”
“It is disingenuous for anyone to blame Pakistan or state institutions of Pakistan, including the ISI and the armed forces, for being in cahoots with al-Qaida,” Gilani said. “Elimination of Osama bin Laden, who launched waves after waves of terrorists attacks against innocent Pakistanis, is indeed justice done.”
New signs were emerging of Pakistan’s anger over the unilateral action taken by the U.S. in sending Navy SEALs into the country from Afghanistan in helicopters with radar-evading technology. In apparent retaliation, Pakistani media have reported what they said was the name of the CIA station chief in Islamabad in a possible leak from authorities seeking to damage covert American activity in the country.
In his remarks to lawmakers, Gilani acknowledged his nation’s failure to track bin Laden but said the failure wasn’t Pakistan’s alone.
“Yes, there has been an intelligence failure,” Gilani said. “It is not only ours but of all the intelligence agencies of the world.”
U.S. officials have said they see no evidence that anyone in the upper echelons of Pakistan’s military and intelligence establishment was complicit in hiding bin Laden. But they still have serious questions about how the al-Qaida chief was able to hole up for up to six years in the army town of Abbottabad, just 35 miles (55 kilometers) from the capital, Islamabad.
President Barack Obama said the U.S. believes bin Laden must have had a support network inside Pakistan.
“But we don’t know who or what that support network was,” Obama said in an interview broadcast Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes.” “We don’t know whether there might have been some people inside of government, people outside of government, and that’s something that we have to investigate, and more importantly, the Pakistani government has to investigate.”
American officials have said they didn’t inform Pakistan in advance of the raid out of fear bin Laden could be tipped off.
Gilani warned the U.S., which has carried out numerous drone strikes on militant targets along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, not to try a similar covert raid in the future.
“Pakistan attaches high importance to its relations with the U.S.,” Gilani said. “Our communications at the official and diplomatic levels with the U.S., during this phase, have been good, productive and straight forward.”
But new questions about the relationship arose with the publication in Pakistani media of what they said is the name of the top CIA operative in the country — the second such potential outing of a sensitive covert operative in six months.
The Associated Press has learned that the name being reported is misspelled. Still, the publication of any alleged identity of the U.S. spy agency’s top official in this country could be pushback from Pakistan’s powerful military and Inter-Services Intelligence agency in retaliation for the American raid.