Pakistan: Pakistan said on Wednesday the world must share the blame for failing to unearth Osama bin Laden as a furore swelled over how the slain Al Qaeda kingpin had managed to live undisturbed near Islamabad.
Following the killing of bin Laden by US commandos in a raid on his sprawling villa, Washington revealed that Pakistan was kept in the dark to avoid tipping off the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The Saudi-born extremist was unarmed when he was shot dead early Monday, the White House also revealed, fuelling speculation that the elite Navy SEAL team was under orders to kill rather than capture him.
US officials, meanwhile, debated whether to scotch conspiracy theories by releasing a “gruesome” photo of the dead bin Laden, conscious that such an image would likely inflame strong passions in some Muslim countries.
Pakistan is smarting after it emerged that bin Laden had been tracked down and killed not in the mountainous caves of the Afghan border but in a purpose-built residential compound in the garrison town of Abbottabad.
The government of the nuclear-armed nation, insisting in the face of Western incredulity that it does not provide safe haven for militants, is angrily stressing its status as the victim of countless bloody attacks.
On the revelation that bin Laden was living less than two hours’ drive north of the capital, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said: “Certainly, 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,” he told reporters during a visit to Paris.
Pakistan needed “the support of the entire world” to eradicate terrorism, Gilani added.
“We are fighting and paying a heavy price to combat terrorism and extremism… fighting not only for Pakistan but for the peace, prosperity and progress of the whole world.”
But unusually frank remarks from the CIA chief betrayed the extent of distrust between the United States and Pakistan, a problematic ally in the war against the resurgent Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan.
“It was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardise the mission,” Leon Panetta told Time magazine. “They might alert the targets.”
Outraged US lawmakers are calling for billions of dollars in aid for Pakistan to be cut back or scrapped entirely, while several governments in Europe say Islamabad has pressing questions to answer.
Pakistani intelligence officials said agents raided the bin Laden compound in 2003 when it was still being built, looking for then Al Qaeda number three Abu Faraj al-Libbi, who escaped and was eventually captured two years later.
They said the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency had no idea bin Laden was later holed up in the compound in Abbottabad, which is home to Pakistan’s equivalent of the West Point and Sandhurst military academies.
But Salman Bashir, the top civil servant in Pakistan’s foreign ministry, told the BBC Wednesday that the ISI had in fact alerted the United States to its suspicions about the imposing compound “as far back as 2009”.
But it was not known at the time that bin Laden was sheltering there and there were “millions” of other suspect locations, the foreign secretary acknowledged.
Bashir also said that Panetta’s remarks were “disquieting” as he underlined the “pivotal role” played by Pakistan in fighting terror. Agencies