PM defends Pakistan over Bin Laden

AFP , Monday 9 May 2011

Pakistani PM Gilani slams US accusations of Pakistani complicity with al-Qaeda over bin Laden hideout, criticizes US raid despite previous praise

Pakistan's Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani reviews troops during a ceremony at the Invalides in Paris May 3, (Reuters).

Pakistan said Monday it was "absurd" to level accusations of complicity or incompetence over the discovery of Osama bin Laden in a garrison city and announced an official probe into the affair.

In a speech to Islamabad's parliament, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani also affirmed the government's "full confidence in the military" and spy agency, which are accused of failing to spot bin Laden hiding under their nose.

"Allegations of complicity or incompetence are absurd. We emphatically reject such accusations," Gilani told lawmakers in a televised speech that follows widespread criticism in the United States and elsewhere since Bin Laden was found and killed in a US raid a week ago.

Blaming "all intelligence agencies of the world" for failing to uncover Bin Laden's lair, Gilani reiterated the country's resolve to eliminate terrorism and said an inquiry had been ordered.

"We are determined to get to the bottom of how, when and why about OBL's presence in Abbottabad. An investigation has been ordered," he said, later adding that it would be conducted by a top Pakistani general.

"Let me also affirm the government's full confidence in the high command of the Pakistan Armed Forces and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)," he said.

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 counter-terror efforts.

Bowing to domestic criticism of America's covert action, he cautioned against unilateral raids on sovereign soil saying they risked "serious consequences."

But addressing fears that Pakistan's relations with its US counter-terror ally had sunk to a new low in the wake of the covert raid by US Navy SEALS last week, 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."

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