In a speech to the Pakistani parliament, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani rejected allegations by the U.S. government that senior officials in Islamabad had any knowledge that al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was living in the country all these years.
He described such accusations as “absurd.”
Gilani also said that Pakistan has full confidence in its military and intelligence; and that his government is “united in our resolve to eliminate terrorism.”
“In today's age of information explosion, it is important to sift facts from fiction,” he said. “Very often it is the virtual or the media reality that obscures the actual. Yet, truth cannot for long be submerged in falsehood.”
The beleaguered Prime Minister, who along with President Asif Ali Zardari are facing tremendous pressure to resign from office, also criticized the U.S. government for taking unilateral action by raiding the compound in Abbottabad and killing bin Laden.
He also warned that Pakistan would retaliate if the U.S. ever attacked any strategic assets within the country’s borders.
“Pakistan reserves the right to retaliate with full force,” Gilani told the National Assembly.
“Pakistan will not relent in this national cause and was determined not to let its soil be used for terrorism.”
Gilani also claimed that the U.S. military was able to evade Pakistan’s radar system with its superior technological advancements.
He called for more cooperation in intelligence sharing between Pakistan and other nations; and said the government has commenced with an investigation into why bin Laden was in the country undisturbed all these years, so close to a prominent military academy.
“It is disingenuous for anyone to blame Pakistan or state institutions of Pakistan including the ISI [intelligence service] and the armed forces for being in cahoots with the Al Qaeda,” Gilani declared.
While revisiting recent history, Gilani pointed out that al-Qaeda was not born in Pakistan and that Pakistani civilians had suffered greatly in the war on terror, including the loss of more than 30,000 soldiers.
“It was Al Qaeda and its affiliates that carried out hundreds of suicide bombings in nearly every town and city of Pakistan and also targeted political leaders, state institutions, the ISI and the General Headquarters,” he said.
“Let there be no doubt Pakistan is a proud nation. Our nation is resilient and our real strength is our people and state institutions,” he said.
Click here for full-text of Gilani's speech.