Pak will review counter-terror cooperation with US

Pakistan government said it would review its counter-terrorism cooperation with the US.

Updated: May 13, 2011, 00:19 AM IST

Islamabad: Stepping up its criticism of
the "unilateral" American raid that killed Osama bin Laden,
the Pakistan government on Thursday condemned the operation and said
it would review its counter-terrorism cooperation with the US.

The Defence Committee of the Cabinet, which met
under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani
this afternoon, condemned the "US unilateral action in
Abbottabad in violation of Pakistan`s sovereignty."

The meeting was also attended by army chief Gen
Ashfaq Pervez Kayani.

The country`s highest decision-making body on
security issues decided to "institute an inter-agency process
to clearly define the parameters of our cooperation with the
US in counter-terrorism in accordance with Pakistan`s national
interests and the aspirations of the people."

A day after US special forces killed the al-Qaida
leader in a raid on a compound near the Pakistan Military
Academy in Abbottabad on May 2, Islamabad described bin
Laden`s death as an "important milestone in the fight against
terrorism."

However, Pakistan stepped up its criticism of the US
operation as bin Laden`s presence in the garrison city raised
awkward and embarrassing questions about the military and
intelligence set-up`s failure to trace the world`s most wanted
man while he was living in the midst of thousands of soldiers.

Gilani has already said that Pakistan will respond
with "full force" if the US or any other country mounts an
operation similar to the one that killed bin Laden.

He has also announced that the army`s Adjutant
General will conduct a probe to ascertain how bin Laden had
been able to hide in Abbottabad.

The Defence Committee of the Cabinet said
safeguarding Pakistan`s sovereignty and national security "is
a sacred duty, which will be ensured at all costs."

It added: "Pakistan is capable and shall respond
appropriately to any challenge to national security, with the
full support of the people."

While reiterating Islamabad`s readiness to
cooperate with the world community in promoting effective
joint cooperation in countering terrorism, the DCC said such
"cooperation will be predicated on Pakistan`s security
interest."

Calling for respect for Pakistan`s sovereignty, it
called for adopting a partnership approach "based on mutual
respect and mutual trust."

In his remarks at the meeting of the DCC, Gilani
said it was "imperative" that the civil and military set-up
should work together with the parliament and the people to
safeguard Pakistan`s sovereignty and security and to promote
national interests.

The covert operation by US forces had raised
"several serious questions which are being debated
internationally and more specifically in the US and Pakistan,"
he acknowledged.

"The questions relating to our defence preparedness,
the capability of our intelligence agencies, our possible
response to a repeat of such action, as well as legal and
moral issues pertaining to sovereignty and propriety, are not
only being asked but are also a cause of anxiety and concern
to the people of Pakistan," Gilani said.

Elected representatives will have an opportunity to
get answers to questions during an in-camera joint session of
parliament to be held on May 13, he said.
Senior military and intelligence officials will brief
lawmakers at the joint session.

The meeting was attended by Interior Minister Rehman
Malik, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairman Gen Khalid
Shamim Wynne, Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman, Foreign
Secretary Salman Bashir and Defence Secretary Syed Athar Ali.

Bureau Report