Pakistan insists on no repeat of bin Laden raid

AFP , Saturday 14 May 2011

Pakistan lawmakers insisted Saturday there must be no repeat of the US commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden and said drone strikes targeting terrorists near the border with Afghanistan must end

A strongly-worded message came out at the end of a Pakistani parliamentary session lasting more than 10 hours, in which MPs debated the "situation arising from unilateral US action in Abbottabad", the northeastern garrison town where Navy SEALs shot dead the Al-Qaeda chief on May 2 after a decade-long manhunt.

The statement came hours after Pakistan's Taliban claimed responsibility for a double suicide bombing on a paramilitary police training centre that killed 89 people in the first major attack to avenge bin Laden's death.

Around 140 people were wounded, 40 of them critically, in the attack -- the deadliest this year in Pakistan, where the government is in crisis over the death of the man blamed for the 9/11 attacks in the United States.

Pakistan's intelligence chief Ahmad Shuja Pasha, chief of military operations and deputy chief of air staff, briefed lawmakers before they issued a resolution condemning Washington's unilateral action at bin Laden's compound.

They called on the government "to appoint an independent commission on the Abbottabad operation, fix responsibility and recommend necessary measures to ensure that such an incident does not recur".

Parliament also threatened to withdraw logistical cooperation for US troops based in Afghanistan and hit out at the drone strikes.

"Such drone attacks must be stopped forthwith, failing which the government will be constrained to consider taking necessary steps including withdrawal of (the) transit facility allowed to NATO," the resolution said.

Most supplies and equipment required by foreign soldiers in Afghanistan are shipped through Pakistan's main northwestern border crossing. Supply convoys are frequently attacked by insurgents.

US drone strikes doubled last year, with more than 100 operations killing over 670 people, according to an AFP tally, and the CIA has said the covert programme has severely disrupted Al-Qaeda's leadership.

"Mistakes have been committed by us in the past due to gaps in political and military regimes and we resolved that such mistakes do not happen again," information minister Firdous Ashiq Awan said.

"We stand by our military and we will not leave our intelligence alone," she said.

The lawmakers' censure reflects the "strong anguish of people of Pakistan" over the US raid, political analyst Shafqat Mehmood said.

Defence analyst Talat Masood welcomed the call by the parliament for formation of an independent commission on the Abbottabad operation.

"I hope that things will improve and there will be pressure by opposition parties and media for greater transparency," he said.

Pakistan has vowed to review intelligence cooperation after the embarrassing revelation that bin Laden had been living less than a mile from one of its military academies in Abbottabad, prompting claims of official collusion.

A White House spokesman said Friday that the US had been granted access to three of the Al-Qaeda leader's widows after it asked Islamabad to help counter growing mistrust by allowing American interrogators to speak to them.

CNN said they were openly "hostile" to the US officials.

Later Friday, a US drone fired two missiles into a vehicle in Pakistan's tribal district of North Waziristan, killing at least three militants in a Taliban and Al-Qaeda stronghold, officials said.

Five NATO oil tankers carrying fuel for international troops in Afghanistan were destroyed when a bomb planted beneath one of them exploded, starting a fire, as they were parked at a terminal in Khyber province.

The Taliban last week threatened to attack security forces to avenge bin Laden's killing.

There has been little public protest in support of bin Laden in a country where more people have been killed in bomb attacks in the past four years than the nearly 3,000 who died in Al-Qaeda's September 11, 2001 strikes on the US.

But Pakistanis have been outraged at the perceived impunity of the US raid, while asking whether their military was too incompetent to know bin Laden was living close to a major forces academy, or, worse, conspired to protect him.






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