Islamabad: Facing intense global scrutiny over
its intelligence agencies` possible complicity in sheltering
Osama bin Laden, Pakistan on Thursday said ISI or elements within
its government were "not in cahoots" with al Qaeda.
Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir mounted a strong defence
of the ISI in the wake of questions raised by US officials
about its failure to detect bin Laden even though he was
living in a compound located less than a kilometre from the
Pakistan Military Academy in Abbottabad.
"It`s easy to say the ISI or elements within the
government were in cahoots with al Qaeda. This is a false
hypothesis and a false charge.
"It cannot be validated on any account and it flies in
the face of what Pakistan and the ISI has been able to
accomplish," Bashir said at the first press conference by a
senior Pakistani official on the killing of bin Laden in the
garrison city of Abbottabad near here by US special forces in
a unilateral operation on Monday.
He also sought to dispel the impression that the US raid
had taken bilateral relations to a fresh low.
While acknowledging that the unilateral and covert US
operation had been successful in eliminating bin Laden, Bashir
said it was "fortunate that a major tragedy that could have
happened was averted" as the Pakistan Air Force had scrambled
two F-16 jets after learning that some helicopters were
present over Abbottabad.
"If anything had gone wrong it would have led to a
terrible catastrophe," he said.
Such operations could not be made the rule and Pakistan`s
cooperation with the US in the war on terror is "based on
certain parameters or red lines" that need to be observed,
Referring to comments by US officials like CIA chief Leon
Panetta about the possible complicity of Pakistani security
forces or intelligence agencies in sheltering bin Laden, he
said such remarks had "continued to surface periodically" to
pressure Pakistan to "do more" in the war on terror.
Bashir claimed the ISI had been more successful than even
the CIA in capturing or killing al Qaeda and Taliban elements.
The ISI had shared information on the compound where bin
Laden was found since 2009 and had also focussed on Abbottabad
since 2004, he said.
"The Pakistan security forces are neither incompetent nor
negligent about their sacred duty which is to protect the
nation," he said.