Pakistan rejects claims it sheltered Bin Laden

Pakistan's prime Minister has denounced as "absurd" accusations of complicity in the sheltering of Osama bin Laden and warned yesterday that a repeat of the unilateral operation conducted by US special forces would resort in serious consequences.

In an impassioned televised address before a joint session of the parliament, Yousaf Raza Gilani said protecting the nation's sovereignty was a priority and claimed the civilian authorities had full confidence in the country's armed forces. He said a senior Pakistani army officer, Lt-Gen Javed Iqbal, would conduct an investigation into how Bin Laden had been able to live in the garrison town Abbottabad, under the noses of the military establishment, for up to six years.

"Yes, there has been an intelligence failure. It is not only us but all the intelligence agencies of the world," he said. "Allegations of complicity or incompetence are absurd. We emphatically reject such accusations."

The speech was part of an orchestrated push back by the civilian and military authorities, following a week of embarrassment and indignation triggered not only by the killing of Bin Laden on Pakistani soil, less than three hours north of Islamabad, but by the fact that US forces carried out the operation without any prior warning.

"We are a proud nation. Our people value their honour and dignity," Mr Gilani said. "Our nation is resilient. Our real strength is our people and our state institutions. We all are united and fully committed to sparing no sacrifice to uphold our national dignity and honour [and] to safeguard our supreme national interests by all means and all resources at our command."

So far, no heads have rolled over the Bin Laden affair, despite speculation that the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, was to be replaced. In his speech, Mr Gilani was seeking to shore up the situation for the government amid calls that someone should resign. The head of the armed forces, Gen Ashfaq Kayani, issued a statement saying he had asked the Prime Minister to speak before the parliament and said the "people of Pakistan need to be taken into confidence".

Ayesha Siddiqa, a political and military analyst and author of Military Inc, said Mr Gilani had been trying to create some political space for his government. "There are people howling for his resignation, howling for his blood. I think he was protecting himself and also projecting a sympathetic image of Pakistan," she said. "The problem is that the people who want to go after his blood will still do so. But the strategy of the government is to move inch by inch and try to create some space for itself."

With a nod to history, Mr Gilani recalled that the Mujahideen had been created by the US as it sought to undermine the Soviet Union's grip on Afghanistan in the 1980s. Pakistan, he added, was not the birthplace of al-Qa'ida. In another reference that will likely ruffle the feathers of the US, and India, the Prime Minister said the government was delighted that China, its "all-weather friend", was making economic and technological strides that were delighting the people of Pakistan.

Meanwhile, in another twist to the tense relationship between Pakistan and the US, a right-wing Pakistani newspaper has printed the name of the man it claims is the head of the CIA station in Islamabad. There is widespread speculation the newspaper obtained the name from the ISI, although subsequent reports said the name printed, Mark Carlton, is wrong. Last year, the previous CIA station chief had to leave the country after he was publicly identified in a criminal complaint filed with the police by the families of people killed by US drone strikes. The naming caused outrage among US officials.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Buddy DeFranco
people
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones