Washington: Former president Pervez Musharraf insisted on Thursday that Pakistan did not provide assistance to Osama bin Laden as he renewed criticism of the US raid that killed the world`s most wanted man.
On a visit to Washington, Musharraf staunchly defended Pakistan`s military and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) service which have long come under US suspicion over their relationships with Islamic militants.
The former Army chief, who seized power in a 1999 coup, said he would have known about assistance to bin Laden who apparently moved into a house in the garrison town of Abbottabad during Musharraf`s presidency.
"I confidently and surely say that it was not complicity because I am very aware of one thing -- that I didn`t know, whether one believes it or not," said Musharraf, who lives in self-imposed exile in London.
"Is it possible that the Army and the ISI were hiding from me? No 100 times -- not at all, not possible. Because I am from the Army -- they are my people," he said at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars.
Musharraf described bin Laden`s hideout as "a normal, slightly on the large side, house" and said it would not have naturally attracted suspicion.
"There are hundreds of houses available all over. If he was to be put there, wouldn`t there be some guards and some security that he doesn`t leave the place," Musharraf said.
Musharraf said that the May 02 raid worsened Pakistani images of the United States as people saw it as a "violation of our sovereignty”.
The United States recently suspended around a third of its security assistance to Pakistan as it presses for more action against Islamic militants.
Pakistan recently threw out US trainers and Washington has been worried about the military`s ties with Afghanistan`s Taliban and anti-Indian groups such as Lashkar-e-Toiba which allegedly planned the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
"While I cannot rule out for sure that there is not one element who may be sympathetic to the Taliban, I am very sure that the general direction of ISI and the military is very positive," Musharraf said.