Islamabad: In a startling revelation, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Monday said he came to know about the May 02 US operation which killed Osama bin Laden 15 minutes after its launch but had no idea of the target.
Talking to Al-Arabiya channel, the minister said, "I was made aware of the operation 15 minutes after it started.”
Malik further stressed that there was "permanent cooperation in the security field" between Islamabad and Washington, despite US concerns about the reliability of their key ally in the "war on terror”.
Pakistan has strongly denied of any knowledge that Osama bin Laden was hiding in its territory.
Helicopter-borne US commandos carried out a raid lasting less than 40 minutes, killed bin Laden and took his body from the USD 1 million house near Islamabad on May 2.
On ISI’s failure to locate Osama, Rehman Malik had earlier said, “It was an intelligence failure. Sometimes it happens, but I assure our allies that he was not being protected by any government agency.”
US President Barack Obama has pressed Pakistan to probe how bin Laden managed to live for years under the noses of its military, saying he must have had some kind of support network.
The White House is also calling on Islamabad to counter growing mistrust by allowing US investigators access to three of bin Laden`s widows who are in Pakistani custody and could have vital information on al Qaeda.
"We think that there had to be some sort of support network for bin Laden inside of Pakistan," Obama told the CBS television show "60 Minutes" on Sunday.
"But we don`t know who or what that support network was. 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."
Senior US officials have said they have no proof Islamabad was aware of bin Laden`s hideout.
(With Agency inputs)