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Rift In U.S.-Pakistan Relations Likely To Drag On

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Rift In U.S.-Pakistan Relations Likely To Drag On


Rift In U.S.-Pakistan Relations Likely To Drag On

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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In Pakistan last night, the country's prime minster said his country played no role in hiding Osama bin Laden. Some have found that hard to believe since bin Laden was living in a garrison town filled with soldiers. And it's also led to charges that Pakistan is not up to hunting down terrorists or tending the country's nuclear weapons. From Islamabad, NPR's Julie McCarthy has more on the public outcry in Pakistan.

JULIE MCCARTHY: Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani navigated the rocky shoals of public opinion over the U.S. raid and its perceived violation of sovereignty, warning Washington not to try it again.

Prime Minister YUSUF RAZA GILANI (Pakistan): Let no one draw any wrong conclusions. Any attack against Pakistan's strategic assets, whether overt or covert, will find a matching response.

MCCARTHY: U.S. officials reason that bin Laden must have had a support network inside the garrison town of Abbottabad and that Pakistan must investigate. Gilani said it will be done by the armed forces.

But prior to any investigation, the leader of a government heavily dependent on the United States for aid and military hardware refused to accept any blame, and gave the military and intelligence agency - the ISI - an all-clear.

Former Foreign Secretary Najmuddin Shaikh says he's confident Pakistan's top leadership did not know of Osama bin Laden's presence in Pakistan. But he says the entire episode has so poisoned U.S.-Pakistan relations they may not fully recover. He says there's triumphalism in America.

Secretary NAJMUDDIN SHAIKH (Former foreign secretary, Pakistan): And there is a sense of enormous outrage in Pakistan, an outrage not merely against the United States of America but much more so against the army, the ISI and the government.

Unidentified Man: (Foreign language spoken)

MCCARTHY: From onion hawkers to used shoe vendors, the humble working class in this bazaar in Islamabad's grittier twin city Rawalpindi was giving no quarter to the government or the military. Forty-nine-year-old Tariq Iqbal Mir sits in his CD shop, contemplating the nation's embarrassment.

Mr. TARIQ IQBAL MIR: (Through Translator) The military establishment has been ruling over us for 60 years. They should come forward and accept their incompetence and responsibility, because protecting the borders is their duty not the president's or the prime minister's. A huge portion of our budget is given to the military. The ISI chief should also share the blame. Bin Laden lived for five years under his nose. He should resign too.

MCCARTHY: Shaikh Mohammad Aslam says had the Pakistanis done the job and found bin Laden themselves, the suspicions of the global community that Pakistan tolerates terrorists would have been put to rest.

Mr. SHAIKH MOHAMMED ASLAM: (Foreign language spoken)

MCCARTHY: It would've made a huge difference. We would not have been defamed, he says. The United States would have greeted us. The international community would have saluted us, Aslam says.

Pakistan's military and political leadership has come under enormous pressure from the Obama administration to provide credible evidence to capture possible remaining fugitive al-Qaida leaders.

The bearded CD vendor Tariq Iqbal Mir says the present security apparatus must be overhauled, with the focus on catching whoever else may be here, including al-Qaida number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Mr. MIR: (Foreign language spoken)

MCCARTHY: The United States has proven its point, Mir says. They said bin Laden was in Pakistan, and we said he's not, and now he's been recovered here. What will we do if al-Zawahiri is recovered from Waziristan or Quetta? Our security agencies, he says, should revamp their policy and begin the hunt.

Julie McCarthy, NPR News, Islamabad.

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