Millennium Post

Gilani denies role in sheltering Laden

Gilani denies role in sheltering Laden
Insisting that Pakistan had no role in providing shelter to Osama bin Laden, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has attributed presence of the slain al Qaeda leader in his country to universal intelligence failure. Gilani, who is on a five-day visit to Britain, denied in an interview that bin Laden's presence in Abbottabad was secretly known.

He said, 'There is no complicity. I think it's an intelligence failure from all over the world,' and denied suggestions that elements within Pakistan's military may have been aware of bin Laden's hideout, by saying, 'Why should we do that? We have suffered the most.' According to Gilani, Pakistan was 'part of the solution, not part of the problem' when it came to the 'global issue' of fighting terrorism.

He alleged that the US had fuelled the problem by abandoning its ally Pakistan once the Soviets had been driven from Afghanistan. 'The vacuum was filled by militants,' he said.

To US secretary of state Hilary Clinton's statement in India that she believed that Ayman al-Zawahiri, who inherited the al-Qaeda leadership after bin Laden's death, was hiding 'somewhere in Pakistan', Gilani said: 'If there is any credible information please share it with us, so we can be quick and achieve our targets.'

Asked if Taliban leader Mullah Omar might also be in the country, the prime minister replied: 'I don't know. Please tell us.'

The CIA was far more 'powerful' than Pakistan's ISI intelligence service, he said.

Gilani was 'surprisingly upbeat' about relations with Delhi and spoke warmly of Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh. Islamabad, he said, was 'serious' about resolving all core issues with India, including Jammu and Kashmir and Siachen.
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