Islamabad: Amid deepening speculations of Pak’s support to the slain al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden at Abbottabad hideout, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Monday sought to defend his country while addressing the Parliament, saying they never invited Osama and that Pakistan was not the birthplace of Osama bin Laden.
"We cannot be blamed for flawed policies and blunders
of others. Pakistan is not the birthplace of al Qaeda. We did
not invite Osama bin Laden to Pakistan or even to
Afghanistan," he told the National Assembly.
In what comes as his first public statement, Pakistan’s PM Gilani was briefing the Parliament on the Operation Geronimo launched by US commandos that killed the most wanted man Osama exactly a week ago on the night of 2nd May.
Speaking on relations with India on a positive note, Gilani said that “Pakistan will continue to pursue the engagement with India” which will be "positive and constructive."
Seeking to clarify his country’s role, Gilani said that Pakistan was a proud country and it could defend itself from its own resources.
Launching a strong defence of Pakistan’s efforts against terrorism, the Pak premier emphasized on statistics of human lives lost while fighting terror.
Gilani announced a probe by Adjutant General Lt Gen
Javed Iqbal to detect the loopholes that led to Osama staying in Abbottabad untraced. "We are determined to get to the bottom of how, when and why about OBL`s presence in Abbottabad," Mr Gilani said.
Dismissing media reports of disconnect among the state
institutions, Gilani was all praise for ISI and said, "There are no differences between state institutions
(of Pakistan). Let me affirm the full confidence of the
government in the high command of the army and the ISI. The
ISI is a national asset. We are proud of its role in the
anti-terror campaign...We are all on the same page."
So much so that, Gilani went a step ahead claiming that it was ISI`s effort that ultimately led CIA to track down Osama.
"It was the ISI that passed leads to the CIA that enabled the US intelligence to use superior technological assets and focus on the area in which Osama Bin Laden was eventually found, ” Gilani claimed.
Strongly denying Pak`s liaisons with al Qaeda, Gilani said it was disingenuous to accuse Pakistan, including its spy agency, of "being in cahoots" with the al Qaeda network.
In an apparent reply to CIA`s allegations Gilani said, “allegations of Pakistan’s complicity and incompetence are absurd”.
Gilani agreed that the failure to find bin Laden, who was reportedly living in Abbottabad for up to six years, was a mistake. But he insisted it wasn`t Pakistan`s alone.
"Yes, there has been an intelligence failure," said Gilani. "It is not only ours but of all the intelligence agencies of the world."
Saying that even Pak had suffered Osama`s wrath, Gilani appeared to express satisfaction over the killing of Osama when he said, "Elimination of Osama is indeed justice done" but he was quick to add that Pakistan was not in a hurry to celebrate the victory.
"Pakistan is not so naive to declare
victory. The legacy of Osama bin Laden needs to be demolished," he added.
On Pak-US ties
"We have strong differences with US," this statement of Pak PM seemed to highlight the texture of relations between the two countries but in another quick diplomatic statement Gilani added that "media had portrayed a wrong notion of Pakistan`s divide with US."
Launching an open scathing attack on the `unilateral action` that US forces put up during Osama raid, Gilani warned US, "No one should underestimate the resolve and capability of our nation and armed forces to defend our sacred homeland."
"Unilateralism runs the inherent risk of serious consequences.Pakistan reserves the right to retaliate with full force," Gilani added.
Gilani also criticized the US for drone strikes saying that they breached "Pakistan`s sovereignty" and that they were "counter-productive".
Raising questions on who was responsible for the
rise of al-Qaeda chief, Gilani directly hit out at US, hinting that it was America who backed al Qaeda.
To buttress his indirect indication that US had a role in the creation of al Qaeda, Pak PM said that "videos of US exhorting Jihad in past is public."
In spite of all these, Gilani managed to affirm the strategic rapport between the two countries saying that US remained a key ally of Pakistan.
"Our communications at the official and diplomatic levels with the US, during this phase, have been good, productive and straight forward," said Gilani.