PAKISTAN’S Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has denied that Pakistan helped hide Osama bin Laden, dismissing as “absurd” allegations that the al-Qaida leader’s presence in Pakistan was the result of complicity or incompetence. In a speech to parliament earlier this week, Mr. Gilani said it was “disingenuous” for anyone to insinuate that Pakistani authorities, including the country’s spy agency, were aligned with al-Qaida. He voiced support for ISI, Pakistan Army, and said bin Laden’s death was proper justice (a mistimed comment since extrajudicial killing can never be deemed proper justice). The PM ordered an investigation into how bin Laden was able to live in Pakistan undetected, and he named a top army general to lead the probe. Mr. Gilani went on to criticize the U.S. raid, warning that such unilateral actions on Pakistani soil run the risk of “serious consequences.” But he added that Pakistan attaches high importance to its relations with the United States. He said the U.S.-Pakistan partnership serves mutual interests and is based on respect and trust.
Pakistani analysts criticized the address and questioned whether Mr. Gilani’s words will calm the crisis sparked by the U.S. raid on a compound in the northern city of Abbotabad last week that killed the world’s most wanted terrorist. Many said the address came too late, while others said they wanted to hear more substance from the prime minister. In fact the nation, which is still in a state of shock and trauma, following the US operation, needed a number of explanations, which are still not forthcoming. PM Gilani’s initial statements spoke of a victory of sorts but gave little or no explanation. The day the US raid took place, PM Gilani was busy wooing and swearing in erstwhile political foes PML (Q) into the fold of government with heavy bribes of Ministerial posts. Then Mr. Gilani departed for Paris on one of his meaningless sojourns with a large retinue and camp followers, for which the cash starved national exchequer had to cough up millions of Euros, which could have fed, clothed and looked after hundreds of starving and homeless Pakistanis. No sooner had the PM returned, the President departed for Kuwait, as if the Pakistani nation does not matter or even exist. Meanwhile the Army and Air Chiefs tried to provide some feeble explanations, which managed to confuse the people even more. Generalissimo Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has rightly criticized the government’s handling of the bin Laden case, saying “public dismay and despondency” has been aggravated by an “insufficient formal response.” He called on Prime Minister Gilani to convene a joint session of parliament on security issues, which has been acceded to. Interior Minister Rehman Malik told the Arab television station Al-Arabiya that Pakistan knew of the U.S. raid 15 minutes after it had begun, but did not know it was targeting bin Laden, muddying the waters even further.
U.S.-Pakistani relations were already strained following a series of drone attacks against militants in Pakistan’s northwest and the detention of a CIA contractor who shot and killed two Pakistanis in Lahore in January. The Pakistani nation simply wants to know, why after spending billions of US Dollars on defence equipment and expensive war machines, the US made a mockery of Pakistan by entering undetected, penetrating as deep as 150 kilometers, conducting a clandestine operation for three quarters of an hour and then make good their escape, catching the Pakistani defence system totally unawares. If the people have to keep their own vigil and watch, then there is no need of maintaining a high profile force, which does not deliver at the time of need. The PM, who is enjoying the perks of office on the behest of the people of Pakistan, who elected him, owes it to them to give cogent and plausible reasons for the debacle, and assure the people that it will not be repeated. – Dailymailnews