Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has warned the United States against further incursions into his country following the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, saying that future strikes would be met with “full force.”
In a speech to parliament on Monday, Gilani said “unilateralism runs the inherent risk of serious consequences.
“Pakistan reserves the right to retaliate with full force. No one should underestimate the resolve and capability of our nation and armed forces to defend our sacred homeland.”
Gilani also warned against any attacks on Pakistan’s “strategic assets,” a term the government uses in reference to the nation’s nuclear weapons, according to the Arab network Al-Jazeera.
Pakistan scrambled jet fighters and sent forces to bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad as soon as they were aware of the raid, but they did not arrive in time to interdict American forces, Gilani said.
Pakistan’s main opposition party has called on Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardani to resign over what it asserts was Pakistan’ unsatisfactory response to the raid by Navy SEALs.
The May 2 mission in Abbottabad has uncovered “positive intelligence” about the whereabouts of Ayman al Zawahiri, now the top ranking al-Qaida leader following bin Laden’s death, a source told CBS News.
That has sparked speculation that the United States could launch another raid into Pakistan to take out Zawahiri if he is living there, as has been reported, risking a confrontation with Pakistani forces.
In a further sign of a widening rift between Pakistan and the U.S., Pakistani media have revealed the name of the American they say is the CIA’s station chief in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital.
The Nation, a Pakistani newspaper, was one of the media outlets reporting the story, and Editor Salim Bokhari said the name “has to have been released by some government agency.”
If the Pakistani government was in fact behind the release, “that would be the second such outing in the past six months, a sign of how deeply U.S.-Pakistan relations have soured,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
Pakistan’s refusal so far to allow Americans to interrogate bin Laden’s three wives, who are being held in Pakistani custody, has also strained relations.
In his address to parliament, Gilani brushed aside charges that Pakistan was complicit in hiding bin Laden, who reportedly was living in the Abbottabad compound for the past five years. Gilani said it was “disingenuous” for anyone to accuse the Pakistani government or intelligence agencies of “being in cahoots” with al-Qaida.
“Allegations of complicity or incompetence are absurd,” he declared.
But Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, said in an interview with ABC News on Sunday that he didn’t know if bin Laden had help from his country’s government or military to stay concealed in Abbottabad, site of extensive Pakistani military facilities.
And President Barack Obama told CBS on Sunday that bin Laden benefitted from “some sort of support network” inside Pakistan.
Summing up the current state of American-Pakistani relations, Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, told CNN: “At best, we’re a limited partner and often the emphasis should be on the word ‘limited’ rather than ‘partner.’ It makes the American military and the American intelligence services incredibly suspicious of their Pakistani counterparts.”
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