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We did not invite Osama to Pak: Gilani

Last updated on: May 9, 2011 20:34 IST

We did not invite Osama to Pak: Gilani

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Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad

Exposed by the United States action that eliminated Osama bin Laden in the heart of the country, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Monday sought to turn tables on its ally asking who was responsible for the rise of Al Qaeda chief.

"We cannot be blamed for flawed policies and blunders of others. Pakistan is not the birthplace of Al Qaeda. We did not invite Osama bin Laden to Pakistan or even to Afghanistan," he told the National Assembly, a week after the US operation that killed bin Laden in his safe house in Abbottabad, not far away from Islamabad.

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Image: Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani
Photographs: Charles Platiau/Reuters
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'ISI's leads killed bin Laden'

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He blamed "failure" of global intelligence agencies in not locating bin Laden and praised the role of both the Inter-Services Intelligence and the army.

"There are no differences between state institutions (of Pakistan). Let me affirm the full confidence of the government in the high command of the army and the ISI. The ISI is a national asset. We are proud of its role in the anti-terror campaign. We are all on the same page," he said dismissing media reports of disconnect among the state institutions.

At the same time, he claimed it was ISI's leads that led US into the operation that finally killed bin Laden. Strongly denying any collusion between Pakistan and Al Qaeda in sheltering bin Laden, he said "allegations of complicity and incompetence are absurd."

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Image: Osama bin Laden
Photographs: Reuters
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'Osama's legacy needs to be demolished'

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Gilani announced a probe by Adjutant General Lt Gen Javed Iqbal to go into the operation that eliminated Osama. Seeking to put up a brave front, Gilani disapproved

of the "unilateral action" of the US forces in entering the Pakistani territory and said such action ran the risk of inherent consequences as was demonstrated by the forced destruction of its own helicopter by the US commandos.

Notwithstanding differences with US on the Osama operation, he said Pakistan and US had convergence of views and dissonance was about operational and technical matters.

However, he said the killing of Al Qaeda chief was indeed "justice done" but Pakistan was not so naive to declare victory. "The legacy of Osama bin Laden needs to be demolished."

The prime minister said that terrorism nurtured by bin Laden needs to be addressed and blamed him for "waves and waves" of terrorist attacks that killed innocent people in Pakistan.

While claiming that relations with major powers and immediate neighbours were good, Gilani warned against any Abbottabad-like operation saying "any attack, overt or covert, (on Pakistan) will get a matching response. Pakistan reserves the right to retaliate against such a move with full force." 

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Image: Recruits of Osama bin Laden are seen marching in this frame grab from an undated training video at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan
Photographs: Reuters
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'India-Pak relations in good shape'

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Referring to India, he said Pakistan will pursue an engagement which will be "positive and constructive." On the probe by the adjutant general, he said it would determine how and when bin Laden had been able to hide in Abbottabad.

In a clear message to the US, he said "Cooperation in counter-terrorism warrants a partnership approach which fully accommodates Pakistan's interests and respect for the clearly stipulated red lines".

Gilani's brief speech noted that Pakistan's relations with the US and neighbouring countries such as Afghanistan and India were in "good shape". With the US, Pakistan has an ongoing multi-track process of engagement and is looking forward to a visit by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he said.

He said Pakistan's engagement with India should yield dividends for people of the region.

He also announced convening of an in-camera joint session of Parliament on May 13 and said the house would formulate a policy and do all to safeguard the country from all threats. 

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Image: Gilani and PM Manmohan Singh wave to spectators prior to the start of the 2011 ICC World Cup second Semi-Final between India and Pakistan at Mohali
Photographs: Getty Images
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'Pakistan will not let its soil be used for terrorism'

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Gilani, who had met President Asif Ali Zardari and the army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani over the Osama issue told Parliament that all state institutions were in complete harmony.

"Pakistan will not relent in this national cause and was determined not to let its soil be used for terrorism." The Prime Minister revisited the past and spoke on the events leading to invasion by the Soviet Forces of Afghanistan, the birth of the freedom movement with the support of the world and the eventual creation of the al-Qaeda terrorist organisation.

He said Pakistan lost over 30,000 of its men in the war against terrorism and termed its commitment to the cause as a national priority. Gilani said no other nation has met so many challenges as the people of Pakistan. He said the nation has met all challenges.

He admitted the US used its technological ability to evade Pakistan's radar system. Gilani said there were risks involved in unilateralism and called for intelligence sharing and an end to the blame-game.


Image: A flag of the Khyber-based Lashkar-e-Islam painted on a wall in Bara town in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas

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