Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani categorically denied that Pakistan was “complicit” in sheltering former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. “There is no complicity. I think it’s an intelligence failure from all over the world,” he said during an interview to Guardian.
Gilani, who is currently touring the UK, also denied that Pakistan’s military was aware about Bin Laden’s hideouts, or had deliberately withheld information about his whereabouts. “Why should we do that? We have suffered the most.”
Bin Laden was killed during a unilateral raid by the US in the garrison town of Abbottabad last year in May. “Osama bin Laden wasn’t a Pakistani,” Gilani pointed out in his interview.
Gilani added that Pakistan has suffered the most in the war on terror, and argued that Pakistan was a “part of the solution, not part of the problem”.
“Pakistan has paid a huge price. Some 35,000 people have been martyred. 5,000 police and soldiers have been killed,” he complained.
Ayman al-Zawahiri in Pakistan?
Responding to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s claim that al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is residing somewhere in Pakistan, Gilani denied having any information about it, instead pleaded that such intelligence be shared with Pakistani authorities.
“If there is any credible information please share it with us, so we can be quick and achieve our targets.” He gave the same response when asked about reports which suggested Taliban leader Mullah Omar being present in the country. “The CIA is far more powerful than Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service, and would have a better idea,” he said.
Relations with countries
Gilani, during the interview, admitted that relations with the US have not been “too normal” of late, but maintained that the premier intelligence agencies of both countries have been working together to “achieve” their high-level targets.
He added that terrorism was fueled in Pakistan because the US abandoned its ally after the Soviets were driven out from Afghanistan.
On relations with India, Gilani said that Pakistan was “serious” about resolving all core issues with India, including the thorny subjects of Kashmir and Siachen disputes.
Gilani termed relations with the UK as “excellent” as he begins Enhanced Strategic Dialogue with his British counterpart during his five day state visit.
On Imran Khan
The prime minister gave a “scathing” response when asked about Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan, who is expected to contest the up coming general elections against Gilani’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
When asked whether Khan will be able to become prime minister in the next election, Gilani said, “if he [Khan] wins his own seat.”
He added that Khan is a good cricketer but has no future in Pakistan.