The Prime Minister of Pakistan said intelligence failed on a global scale with respect to the search for Osama bin Laden.
Defending his country from accusations that its security and intelligence network was largely to blame for Osama’s ability to survive for almost ten years after the Sept. 11 attacks, Yousuf Raza Gilani said: We have intelligence failure of the rest of the world including the United States. There is intelligence failure of the whole world, not Pakistan alone.”
On a state visit to France, Gilani told reporters: “We are fighting and paying a heavy price, adding that his government is fighting not only for Pakistan but for the peace, prosperity and progress of the whole world.
Gilani also said that Pakistan needs the support of the entire world to fight terrorists.
Gilani also told Agence France Presse that Pakistan “is united on one platform to fight against extremism and terrorism -- that’s the biggest victory we have.”
He particularly cited that heavy presence of Pakistani troops along the lawless border with Afghanistan.
“We have very successfully isolated the militants from the local tribes so the local tribes there have starting supporting us — that’s another victory,” Gilani said.
Osama was killed by US Special Forces at a luxurious compound in the town of Abbottabad, near the capital city of Islamabad and close to a prominent military training academy.
The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has admitted that it carried out the operation to kill Osama without informing Pakistani authorities out of concerns that the plan could be jeopardized.
The Pakistani spy organization, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), is widely believed to have links to both al Qaeda and Taliban.
Pakistan’s foreign minister was apparently disturbed by the CIA’s assertion that Pakistani officials could not be trusted.
Salman Bashir told BBC that the CIA attitude is disquieting and that Pakistan has a pivotal role in combating militants.
Bashir added that the compound where bin Laden was found had already been identified as “suspicious” by the ISI years ago.
Gilani also seemed to deflect questions over how Osama could have existed peacefully so close to a military base for so long.
“It’s [in] a remote area,” he said. “It’s an embarrassment for the whole world [that bin Laden wasn’t found] because of the high tech and the intelligence and such information, they could not reach that gentleman for the last several years.”
Gilani’s five-year term as PM expires in 2013 --- and he is determined to finish it, despite the ongoing threats to the fragile coalition that runs the government. He emphasized that political stability would be required to continue the fight against terrorism.
He also blamed the nation’s dire economic straits on the militants.
“One suicide bomb attack is a flight of capital and no investment is coming to Pakistan, therefore we have to fight those two major issues [of terrorism and the economy] together,” he said.
France’s foreign minister Alain Juppe, who discussed the Osama subject with Gilani, seemed to take a conciliatory view of Pakistan
He told reporters in Paris: “I think we should avoid any antagonism with Pakistan. It is a big country. We have every interest in keeping good relations with it, and it should cooperate. I hope this will be a turning point in the right direction. The Pakistani prime minister assured me yesterday of his will to cooperate. There will be no solution in Afghanistan, no long-lasting political solution, if we do not manage to work in trust with Pakistan.”
A BBC correspondent in Abbottabad, Aleem Maqbool, wrote: “There are serious questions about the Pakistanis' involvement or incompetence here. They are pointing to the fact that they have had a lot of security co-operation over the years with the Americans, and that is why the Americans were ultimately able to carry out this operation - although Pakistan does admit it was not involved in the operation itself.”
Maqbool added: “But the concern for a lot of Pakistanis is the future, and the fact that there may be repercussions. There are thousands of militants still in the tribal areas, and if they decide to take revenge, it is likely that Pakistani civilians will pay the price, as they have done in the past.”
Indeed, more than 4000 people in Pakistan have died since 2007 due to bomb attacks by al-Qaeda and Taliban.