Osama bin Laden was not hidden or helped by Pakistan, the country’s prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani insisted.
In a speech to Islamabad’s parliament, Gilani said allegations of complicity or incompetence were “absurd” and also affirmed the government’s “full confidence in the military” and intelligence unit ISI, which are accused of failing to spot bin Laden hiding under their nose.
Speaking live on television, today he said: “Allegations of complicity or incompetence are absurd. We emphatically reject such accusations.”
Pakistan was subject to widespread criticism following the shooting of Bin Laden in a raid on his compound US Navy SEALS raid a week ago.
Blaming “all intelligence agencies of the world” for failing to uncover the terror leader’s compound, Gilani reiterated the country’s resolve to eliminate terrorism and said an inquiry had been ordered and would be conducted by a senior general.
Gilani also criticised the US raid that caught and killed the al Qaeda chief, despite an earlier statement that it had been a “great victory” for counterterror efforts.
But addressing fears that Pakistan’s relations with the US had sunk to a new low, Gilani said: “Pakistan attaches high importance to its relations with the US…. We have a strategic partnership that we believe is in our mutual interest.”
Yesterday, Barack Obama suggested that the Pakistani government may have helped shield the terrorist.
Meanwhile, Pakistanis have expressed horror at the ability of the United States to mount a raid within their country without notifying the government.
The debacle has subject Pakistan’s powerful military establishment to humiliation. Opposition leaders are calling for Gilani and Asif Ali Zardari, the president, to resign.
Ahead of Gilani’s speech, the main opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Nawaz) demanded a full investigation into the breakdown in Pakistani intelligence.
“Our party will react very strongly if we come to a conclusion that the speech is nothing but an eyewash,” said Siddiqul Farooq, a leader of the party.
“We want a serious probe to fix responsibility for an intelligence failure and objective steps that such negligence is not repeated in future,” he said.
The relationship between Pakistan and the United States had already been frayed after a contractor working for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) killed two men and was detained for seven weeks.