The Prime Minister of Pakistan will address Parliament today to discuss in detail the U.S. commando raid which killed Osama bin Laden, amidst swirling accusations that Islamabad has been harboring the al-Qaeda terror chief for many years.
Yousuf Raza Gilani will reportedly take [the] nation into confidence following statements by US President Barack Obama that bin Laden may have had help from a Pakistani support network.
Gilani will speak in detail on various aspects of the operation, Pakistan's sacrifices in the war against terrorism and its future strategy to deal with the menace, a senior Pakistani official told Agence France Presse.
This will be Gilani’s first public statement on the controversy.
Gilani as well as Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari have come under enormous pressure to resign after embarrassing revelations that the al-Qaeda boss had been living undisturbed in a military compound not far from the capital for at least five years, maybe longer.
Gilani is also facing pressure from Pakistan’s principal opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Nawaz), which is demanding a probe into the failure of the country’s intelligence and military network.
We want a serious probe to fix responsibility for an intelligence failure and objective steps that such negligence is not repeated in future, said a party spokesman.
There have long been suspicions that Pakistan’s powerful intelligence network has been protecting terrorists and militants, including bin Laden.
Relations with the U.S. (which has provided billions in aid to Pakistan) are also tattered.
We think there had to be some sort of support network for bin Laden inside of Pakistan, Obama told CBS's ‘60 Minutes’ news program.
But we don't know who or what that support network was. We don't know whether there might have been some people inside of government, people outside of government, and that's something that we have to investigate and, more importantly, the Pakistani government has to investigate.
Obama added: But these are questions that we're not going to be able to answer three or four days after the event. It's going to take some time for us to be able to exploit the intelligence that we were able to gather on site.
Pakistan has officially denied the allegations that its government had any connection whatsoever with bin laden or any other terrorist leaders. They also said they will investigate how and why bin Laden was undetected within its borders all these years.
Pakistan's ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, told ABC News that his government will act against anyone who protected bin Laden or failed to realize his whereabouts.
And heads will roll, once the investigation has been completed, he said.
Now, if those heads are rolled on account of incompetence, we will share that information with you. And if, God forbid, somebody's complicity is discovered, there will be zero tolerance for that, as well.
However, of even greater concern to Pakistani officials is the fact that many within the country are outraged that the US military was able to engineer a murderous commando attack on Pakistan soil (allegedly without the knowledge or approval of local authorities).
Tariq Pirzada, a Pakistani political commentator told Al Jazeera that the Prime Minister's speech will probably highlight the sizeable contribution Pakistan has made to the struggle against terrorism, but also seek to explain how the government failed at a political level.
The reaction from Gilani to Obama is going to be: look, we cooperated with you for the last ten years, we have made sacrifices and contributions to the war against terror, Pirzada said. There was obviously intelligence failure; however, we are thoroughly investigating this matter.
An Al Jazeera reporter in Islamabad said that Gilani has to spread the blame around equally.
The question is, will he do the unthinkable? Will he point the finger at the military for not being aware that the US was able to carry out this operation in the early hours of Monday morning last week?, the reporter pondered.
Will he do the surprising, by pointing the finger at the ISI, the spy agency, for not being aware that bin Laden was living here, accusing them of incompetence? Or will he do the risky and point the finger at the US for breaching Pakistan's sovereignty?
A retired Pakistani military official, Shaukat Qadir, told Al Jazeera: When the particular house bin Laden was living in was under construction in 2003, it was first raided by the [Pakistani intelligence service] to catch a senior al-Qaeda leader. So if this was under suspicion in 2003, how could it not remain under surveillance now?
However, Qadir scoffed at the notion that bin Laden was somehow supported by senior level government officials in Islamabad, as speculated by Obama.
I am sure bin Laden had a support network in the country, but if [Obama's] pointing fingers at the officials and saying there was official support, I don't think that existed, he said.