‘Osama raid wasn`t known to any tier of Pak army’

The US raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad was not known to "any tier" of the Pakistani army, a top military officer said.

Last Updated: Jul 26, 2011, 16:49 PM IST

Islamabad: The US raid that killed Osama
bin Laden in Abbottabad was not known to "any tier" of the
Pakistani army which was "taken by surprise" by the May 2
operation, a top military officer has told an inquiry panel
probing the al-Qaeda leader`s presence in this country.

Maj Gen Ashfaq Nadeem Ahmad, the Director General of
Military Operations, said: "The US acted in an environment of
trust and the (Pakistani) army was, therefore, taken by
surprise by the Abbottabad operation."

The Abbottabad raid was not known to "any tier" in the
Pakistani army, Ahmad said while deposing yesterday before the
commission.

He provided a detailed briefing to the inquiry commission
on the US operation.

He explained the Pakistan Army`s perspective on the
covert operation and informed the panel about contacts made by
the army chief with the air force chief, Foreign Secretary,
Prime Minister and President after learning about the incident
in Abbottabad, an official statement said.

Responding to a question by a member of the commission
about bin Laden`s presence in a garrison area, Ahmad explained
that Abbottabad Cantonment was an open area that hosted only
training institutions and had no "fighting troops."

These institutions had their own security in place to
deal with any threat, he said.

When the commission raised questions about the safety and
protection of nuclear assets and strategic sites, Ahmad said
such facilities were "very well protected and were under air
and ground protection" of the armed forces.

He also gave details about the Pakistani army`s posts
along the border with Afghanistan.

The panel, headed by Supreme Court Justice Javed Iqbal,
has been asked by the government to ascertain how bin Laden
managed to live in Pakistan for such a long time, investigate
the US operation that killed him, determine the nature and
causes of lapses by authorities and make suitable
recommendations.

Ahmad further said the army is involved in operations in
different areas to fight militancy.

The army`s presence is meant to eliminate militancy
and establish the writ of state in these areas, he said.

No threat whatsoever is envisaged from Afghanistan and
the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), both of
whom are allies of Pakistan in the fight against terror, Ahmad
said.

Pakistan and the US and ISAF forces conduct
anti-militancy operations on their respective sides of the
Pakistan-Afghanistan border and plans for operations close to
the border are fully shared, he added.

ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha will brief the
commission at its next meeting on August 1, officials said.

An unnamed member of the commission also told Dawn
newspaper that the panel had taken notice of a recent
statement by a member, Lt Gen (retired) Nadeem Ahmed, that the
ISI was unaware of bin Laden`s presence in Abbottabad.

Justice Javed Iqbal barred members of the commission from
issuing any statement regarding the probe.

PTI