Pakistan critical of 'unilateral' US raid that killed Osama bin Laden
The Pakistani government today expressed "deep concerns and reservations" over the May 1 raid by covert US soldiers and CIA operatives that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in his safe house in Abbottabad. Pakistan also denied any involvement in sheltering the terror chief.
Pakistan released the statement after allegations were made that Pakistan's military and intelligence service sheltered bin Laden, as well as other reports claiming that some elements of the Pakistani military aided in bin Laden's death.
"[T]he Government of Pakistan expresses its deep concerns and reservations on the manner in which the Government of the United States carried out this operation without prior information or authorization from the Government of Pakistan," the press release published on the website of Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said.
"This event of unauthorized unilateral action cannot be taken as a rule. The Government of Pakistan further affirms that such an event shall not serve as a future precedent for any state, including the US."
The Pakistani statement said that the death of bin Laden "is an important milestone in fight against terrorism and that the Government of Pakistan and its state institutions have been making serious efforts to bring him to justice," but the government "categorically denies the media reports suggesting that its leadership, civil as well as military, had any prior knowledge of the US operation."
Pakistan said the reports that US helicopters used Ghazi Airbase are "absolutely false and incorrect." According to the Foreign Ministry's statement, "[n]either any base or facility inside Pakistan was used by the US Forces, nor Pakistan Army provided [sic] any operational or logistic assistance to these operations conducted by the US Forces."
Instead, Pakistan claimed that US helicopters "entered Pakistani airspace making use of blind spots in the radar coverage due to hilly terrain," and used the terrain as well as the "latest technology and 'nap of the earth' flying techniques" to reach Abbottabad. The Pakistani Air Force "scrambled its jets within minutes" after receiving reports of helicopters over Abbottabad, as was confirmed by US counterterrorism chief John Brennan. But the Pakistani statement did not explain why Pakistani jets did not intercept and engage the helicopters, which were on station over bin Laden's mansion for 40 minutes.
Pakistan has detained bin Laden's wife, Amal al Sadah, who was wounded during the assault, and an undisclosed number of children are currently in custody. Osama bin Laden's son, Hamza, and two al Qaeda couriers were killed during the raid.
"They [bin Laden's family] are all in safe hands and being looked after in accordance with law," the Pakistani government stated. "Some of them needing medical care are under treatment in the best possible facilities. As per policy, they will be handed over to their countries of origin."
Pakistan also claimed that the Abbottabad area has "been under sharp focus of intelligence agencies since 2003."
Abu Faraj al Libi, a top al Qaeda commander who managed couriers for bin Laden, was captured in Abbottabad in 2005; and Umar Patek, a senior Jemaah Islamiyah operative from Indonesia, was captured in Abbottabad earlier this year.
The statement stressed that the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, Pakistan's military intelligence branch, was working with the CIA on Abbottabad.
"As far as the target compound is concerned, ISI had been sharing information with CIA and other friendly intelligence agencies since 2009. The intelligence flow indicating some foreigners in the surroundings of Abbottabad, continued till mid April 2011."
According to Pakistan, the CIA used its "superior technological assets' and "exploited the intelligence leads given by us to identify and reach Osama bin Laden."