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Pakistan: Failure To Find Bin Laden Not Ours Alone

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Pakistan: Failure To Find Bin Laden Not Ours Alone

Pakistan: Failure To Find Bin Laden Not Ours Alone

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Melissa Block.

Pakistan's prime minister delivered an address to that nation today. His speech was expected to be an accounting of the security lapse that allowed Osama bin Laden to hide for six years in the city of Abbottabad. Instead, the prime minister defended Pakistan's military and intelligence agency.

And as NPR's Julie McCarthy reports from Islamabad, the speech indirectly criticized the U.S. for bin Laden's presence in the country.

JULIE McCARTHY: Pakistan's prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, said Osama bin Laden's death in the covert U.S. raid last week was indeed justice. But in his first statement since the American operation, Gilani was stern with the U.S., saying Pakistan reserved the right to retaliate against any future unilateral strike.

Prime Minister YOUSUF RAZA GILANI (Pakistan): Our people are rightly incensed on the issue of violation of sovereignty as typified by the covert U.S. air and ground assault. No one should underestimate the resolve and capability of our nation to defend our sacred homeland.

McCARTHY: The allegation gaining currency last week, in a vacuum of official silence, was that Pakistan's security establishment knew where bin Laden was hiding. But Gilani brushed aside the charge of complicity by Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, or incompetence by the military that failed to interdict the U.S. May 2nd mission.

Prime Minister GILANI: It is disingenuous for anyone to blame Pakistan or state institution of Pakistan, including the ISI and the armed forces for being in cahoots with al-Qaida.

McCARTHY: Gilani admitted there had been an intelligence failure, which, as he has said before, the entire world shared, but he did not explain how bin Laden remained sequestered in Pakistan for years.

Instead, in his account of the history of al-Qaida, he blamed the U.S. for having helped Islamist militants take root in Pakistan by helping support the jihad that ousted the Soviets from Afghanistan.

Prime Minister GILANI: Pakistan alone cannot be held to account for flawed policies and blunders of others. Pakistan is not the birthplace of al-Qaida. We did not invite Osama bin Laden to Pakistan or even to Afghanistan.

McCARTHY: Gilani said the government would investigate the intelligence failure, a failure Dawn newspaper said allowed terrorists to strike with impunity and external forces to enter the country undetected.

Public anger with the country leadership is undiminished one week later.

Unidentified Man: (Foreign language spoken)

McCARTHY: At the Raja market in Rawalpindi, 62-year-old Shaikh Mohammad Aslam said he was furious over what he called government incompetence.

Mr. SHAIKH MOHAMMAD ASLAM: (Foreign language spoken)

McCARTHY: Osama was present here, he says. Why did they not know? Why did President Zardari not know? Why did the prime minister not know, he asks? Why did the chief of our army not know? Why did the ISI chief not know? They get big salaries, Aslam says. They live on our taxes, and this is their intelligence, he asks?

Mohammad Aslam calls the rulers of Pakistan traitors who, quote, "lick the feet of the Americans."

But analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi says it appears the government has chosen to stoke anti-American passions to distract from its own shortcomings. He says it's an effective tool in a country where the United States is increasingly seen as arrogant and unyielding.

Mr. HASAN ASKARI RIZVI (Analyst): You don't talk of terrorism. You don't talk of militancy. You don't talk of what Osama was saying about Pakistan. You just talk against America.

McCARTHY: In a sign of a deepening rift between the intelligence agencies of Pakistan and the United States, the CIA station chief in Islamabad was identified in the Pakistani media over the weekend. The name likely would have been leaked to the paper by the Pakistani government. The CIA declined to comment on the possible leak, but a U.S. official said there are no plans to bring the chief American spy here home.

Julie McCarthy, NPR News, Islamabad.

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