Bin Laden: Pakistan PM Yusuf Raza Gilani to assess raid

Pakistani PM Yusuf Raza Gilani is to make a statement in parliament about the US special forces raid which led to the death of Osama Bin Laden last week.

The address comes amid questions about how the al-Qaeda leader was able to live apparently undetected in the town of Abbottabad near the capital.

On Sunday, US President Barack Obama called on Pakistan to investigate the network that sustained Bin Laden.

Mr Obama said it had to find out if any officials knew of his whereabouts.

Pakistan has denied knowing Bin Laden was holed up in Abbottabad.

But there have been suspicions that someone in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency, which has a long history of contacts with militant groups, may have known where Bin Laden was hiding.

Access to widows
Mr Gilani is expected to “take the nation into confidence” about the raid, AFP news agency quoted a senior official as saying.

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Aleem Maqbool
BBC News, Abbottabad
Pakistanis want to hear some sense of accountability among the leadership but also quite a tough stance against unilateral action by the US here in Pakistan.

Pakistanis in general feel pretty brow-beaten after the past week. They feel embarrassed and humiliated. Given the statements their politicians and military leaders have given over the last 10 years or so, saying Osama Bin Laden wasn’t here, or that he was dead, there is a feeling that either their leadership is grossly incompetent or deceptive in the extreme.

They want to hear from them, but as yet, we haven’t had an address by the president. Nobody here really feels that they are going to get accountability.

“[Mr] 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,” the official said.

In an interview broadcast on Sunday, President Obama told CBS’s 60 Minutes show that the al-Qaeda leader must have had “some sort of support network” in Pakistan, but he did not know whether it included government officials.

“We don’t know whether there might have been some people inside of [Pakistan’s] government, people outside of government, and that’s something that we have to investigate and, more importantly, the Pakistani government has to investigate,” the US president said in the interview, which was conducted on Wednesday.

The BBC’s Natalia Antelava, in Washington, says Mr Obama’s message was even-handed and diplomatic, and he was careful not to accuse Pakistan of harbouring Bin Laden.

Pakistan plays a crucial role in America’s war efforts in Afghanistan, and too much public pressure on Pakistan could jeopardise the relationship, she adds.

US National Security Adviser Tom Donilon meanwhile told NBC talk show Meet the Press that Islamabad needed to establish how Bin Laden lived for six years a short drive from the capital and beside a military academy.

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Many in Abbottabad say they do not believe the videos are real
He said the Pakistani authorities needed to provide the US with access to Bin Laden’s three widows, who were taken into custody after last week’s US commando raid.

But a Pakistani intelligence official, quoted by the Washington Post, said that his government needed permission from the wives’ home countries before Pakistan could allow US officials to question them.

American officials have meanwhile been poring over computer files seized by US special forces from the hideout.

“It’s [the intelligence cache] about the size, the CIA tells us, of a small college library,” said Mr Donilon.

On Saturday, the Pentagon released from the material five home videos featuring Bin Laden, with the audio removed.

They included a message by the al-Qaeda leader to the US and footage of Bin Laden watching an item about himself on TV.

US officials said the Abbottabad compound was a command and control centre from where Bin Laden had actively led al-Qaeda.


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