Tags: Osama bin Laden | Pakistan | president | Zardari

Pakistani President: We Didn't Know He Was There

Tuesday, 03 May 2011 01:57 PM

Osama bin Laden was “not anywhere we had anticipated he would be,” Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari said in response to charges that elements of his government must have been aware al-Qaida leader’s presence in the country. Nonetheless, he said in an Op-Ed published in The Washington Post that the death of bin Laden brings “justice” to his victims.

Pakistan has been criticized widely for not taking a harder line on terrorists and has been the focus of speculation that the government must have been aware that bin Laden was living in a large compound in a populated area near the country’s military academy.

Ali Zardari rejected those allegations in his article and said that, although the operation to kill bin Laden was “not a joint operation,” a “decade of cooperation and partnership between the United States and Pakistan led up to the elimination of Osama bin Laden as a continuing threat to the civilized world. And we in Pakistan take some satisfaction that our early assistance in identifying an al-Qaida courier ultimately led to this day.”

“Some in the U.S. press have suggested that Pakistan lacked vitality in its pursuit of terrorism, or worse yet that we were disingenuous and actually protected the terrorists we claimed to be pursuing,” he wrote. “Such baseless speculation may make exciting cable news, but it doesn’t reflect fact. Pakistan had as much reason to despise al-Qaida as any nation. The war on terrorism is as much Pakistan’s war as it is America’s. And though it may have started with bin Laden, the forces of modernity and moderation remain under serious threat.”

Ali Zardari contended that Pakistan has suffered for its stand against terrorism, losing thousands of police officer and civilians in the battle.

“And for me, justice against bin Laden was not just political; it was also personal, as the terrorists murdered our greatest leader, the mother of my children. Twice he tried to assassinate my wife. In 1989 he poured $50 million into a no-confidence vote to topple her first government. She said that she was bin Laden’s worst nightmare — a democratically elected, progressive, moderate, pluralistic female leader. She was right, and she paid for it with her life.”

Ali Zardari wrote that, within hours of the death of bin Laden, al-Qaida blamed the government of Pakistan and called for revenge against it leaders.

“Together, our nations have suffered and sacrificed. We have fought bravely and with passion and commitment. Ultimately we will prevail. For, in the words of my martyred wife Benazir Bhutto, ‘truth, justice and the forces of history are on our side.’”

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