Gilani blows hot and cold at US over Osama affair

Gilani blows hot and cold at US over Osama affair

While criticizing the US for intruding into Pakistan to kill and for the making of Osama bin Laden, Gilani accepted "intelligence failure" over the presence of the Al Qaeda chief in Pakistani territory.

In the most exhaustive official reaction since US commandos flew into Abbottabad town and gunned down Osama May 2, Gilani sought to deny that Pakistan had been caught pants down over the covert operation that has raised anti-American sentiment in Pakistan to an all-time high.

He insisted that it was Pakistan's much-demonized Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) that passed leads to the American CIA which helped the US to use superior technology to target the elusive Osama.

"Yes, there has been an intelligence failure," Gilani told parliament, reading out a prepared statement in English. He later spoke in Urdu.

He quickly added that all the intelligence agencies of the world also needed to share the blame for failing to track down Osama's presence deep inside Pakistan for so many years.

But the prime minister said allegations of Pakistani complicity with Osama or incompetence in tracing him were both "absurd".

After saying that the unilateral American operation against Osama had caused widespread anger among Pakistanis, Gilani said Pakistan and the US had "strong differences".

But he clarified that this related to technical issues on how to fight terror.
Pakistan, he added, still "attached high importance to its relations with the US.
"We have a strategic partnership which serves mutual interests. It is based on mutual respect. Pakistan and the US have strategic convergence.

"It is not unusual to have different points of view on technical matters."
But Gilani sought to remind the MPs -- and a Pakistani nation eager to know what Islamabad had to say -- that it was the US that fathered Islamic warriors in the 1980s in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets.

"Who was responsible for the birth of Al Qaeda? Who was responsible for the making of Al Qaeda?

"Pakistan alone cannot be held responsible... Pakistan is not the birthplace of Al Qaeda. We did not invite Osama to Pakistan or even to Afghanistan."

He pointed out that it was Al Qaeda and its affiliates that have carried out hundreds of attacks in Pakistan, leaving around 30,000 men, women and children dead in relentless terror bombings.

Without naming the US, Gilani said it was the bombing of Tora Bora mountains in Afghanistan in 2001 by the "international forces" that led to the Al Qaeda's dispersal, including into Pakistan.

Gilani also made it clear that there were no fundamental differences between Pakistan's civilian government and the all-power military, which controls the ISI.

"No other country in the world and no other security agency has done more to interdict Al Qaeda.

He called the ISI, blamed by India and Afghanistan for running terrorist camps, "a national asset". "We are proud of its considerable accomplishments."

The prime minister spoke about improved relations with both Afghanistan and India.

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