Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has acknowledged that an inadequate formal response to Osama bin Laden’s killing has plunged the nation into despondency and caused widespread dismay, saying elected representatives need to take people into confidence.
However, in a statement issued by the military’s press office on Monday, it was not clear whether the military chief called civilian or military response inadequate.
But in a background briefing recently for a select group of journalists, military authorities reportedly pointed fingers at the civilian administration.
“Public dismay and despondency has also been aggravated due to an insufficient formal response,” said Gen Kayani while addressing officers at Rawalpindi, Kharian and Sialkot garrisons.
“He discussed the one-point agenda of (the) Abbottabad incident,” said a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
The army chief said that the Abbottabad incident had been in sharp public focus and incomplete information and lack of technical details had resulted in speculations and misreporting.
“The people of Pakistan need to be taken into confidence through their honourable elected representatives,” he was quoted as saying.
He said he had requested Prime Minister Gilani to convene a joint session of the parliament for a briefing on the Abbottabad operation.
“Articulation of a national response through the parliament, under the circumstances, is the most effective way to let the world know the historic achievements of Pakistan against al Qaeda and its terror affiliates,” the army chief said.
Foreign Office briefing
Meanwhile, the Foreign Office (FO) has painted a grim picture of Pakistan-US relations in the operation’s aftermath, saying “things will never be the same again”.
At a closed-door meeting on Monday, senior foreign ministry officials briefed the parliamentary committee on national security on the circumstances under which Bin Laden was killed and how the country’s civilian and military authorities remained ignorant of his whereabouts and the US raid.
The committee, headed by Senator Raza Rabbani and comprising representatives from all political parties, began discussions in an effort to get down to the bottom of the situation.
The committee decided that senior defence and intelligence officials, including the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency’s head, must be summoned for a briefing scheduled for Wednesday.
Requesting anonymity, a committee member told The Express Tribune that Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said that the operation has exposed the fragile alliance and has taken mutual mistrust to a new level. Bashir told the panel that Pakistan was not consulted in advance about the operation.
Another committee member said that the foreign ministry was confident that despite hiccups, relations will be back on track given the country’s vital role in a future political dispensation of Afghanistan.
“There was consensus that violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty is not acceptable in any manner whatsoever,” said Senator Professor Khurshid Ahmed who represents Jamaat-i-Islami on the panel.
Rabbani said the circumstances surrounding Bin Laden’s death must be investigated thoroughly and the issue must not be swept under the carpet.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2011.
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