Posts Tagged ‘ Yousaf Raza Gillani ’

Pakistan Questions Legality of U.S. operation that killed bin Laden

By Karen Bulliard for The Washington Post

Pakistan’s foreign minister on Thursday appeared to question the legality of the U.S. operation that killed Osama bin Laden, and again denied that his country had knowingly sheltered the world’s most-wanted terrorist.

The comments by Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir came as Pakistani officials faced rising domestic backlash about the helicopter-borne assault in a sleepy neighborhood of a military garrison city, which they have acknowledged they did not know about in advance and — once they became aware of it — could not prevent.

The preservation of national sovereignty, particularly against incursions by U.S. troops, is a highly sensitive issue in nuclear-armed Pakistan, and both the presence of bin Laden and the dramatic American raid that killed him have greatly embarrassed the military here.

Bashir, citing United Nations Security Council resolutions on counter-terror operations, told reporters that the “modalities for combating terrorism raises certain legal and moral issues” and said that “everyone concerned ought to be mindful of their international obligations.”

On Tuesday, the foreign ministry in a statement expressed “deep concerns and reservations” that the U.S. carried out the mission in the city of Abbottabad unilaterally, without Pakistan’s knowledge or permission.

Such comments differ considerably from Pakistan’s measured statements in the hours after the killing, when Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani called bin Laden’s death a “great victory.”

But though clearly directed at the United States, the suggestions that the operation might have breached international law also appeared to be a warning to Pakistan’s archenemy, India, which has been targeted in terror bombings and attacks by Pakistani militants.

On Wednesday, India’s army chief said his forces were capable of carrying out a similar raid — a notion Bashir called “bravado.”

“We feel that sort of misadventure or miscalculation could result in a terrible catastrophe,” Bashir told reporters here, while also vowing that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is safe. Pakistan and India, which also possesses nuclear weapons, have fought three wars.

Bashir indicated that there would be little introspection inside Pakistan about how and why bin Laden was able to reside here, under the nose of the military. Some Pakistani officials in recent days have said there would be an inquiry into intelligence failures, but Bashir played down that, saying questions about bin Laden were “for historians.”

“I would call it a ‘view,’ ” rather than an inquiry, Bashir said. “I think we are in a constant process of viewing at every level. … This is a routine. So I think we should not try to give it a slant in terms of an inquiry. There’s no such thing as an inquiry.”

Bashir provided additional details about Pakistan’s role in the years-long search for bin Laden, and about its actions the morning of the raid, when he said two Pakistani F-16 fighter jets were deployed in response to the U.S. operation. By the time the jets reached the compound, the raid was over.

He said a cellphone number for bin Laden’s trusted courier was discovered by Pakistan’s top spy agency and provided to the CIA, which used it to locate bin Laden’s compound.

U.S. officials have said they were monitoring the courier’s phone and e-mail communications and found him when he contacted a family member.

Bashir contradicted previous Pakistani statements that Abbottabad was under “sharp focus” since 2003 — a year when, a Pakistani intelligence official said earlier this week, the construction site for what would become the bin Laden compound was first raided.

Satellite images provided by U.S. officials, however, show there was no building happening on the property at that time.

On Thursday, Bashir said Abbottabad first surfaced on Pakistan’s radar as an al-Qaeda hideout in 2004, when the driver of Faraj al-Libbi, an al-Qaeda operative who would be arrested by Pakistan in 2005, was traced to the garrison city.

Clinton, With Initiatives in Hand, Arrives in Pakistan

By Mark Landler for The New York Times

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived here Sunday for high-level deliberations with Pakistani leaders, the latest in a series of encounters that the Obama administration hopes will chip away at decades of suspicion between Pakistan and the United States.

Hillary Rodham ClintonMrs. Clinton will announce a raft of initiatives to help Pakistan in public health, water distribution and agriculture, to be funded by $500 million in American economic aid. Among other things, the United States will build a 60-bed hospital in Karachi and help farmers export their mangoes.

Yet these projects, however beneficial to this economically fragile country, do not disguise several nagging sources of friction between the two sides. American officials still question Pakistan’s commitment to root out Taliban insurgents in its frontier areas, its motives in reaching out to war-torn Afghanistan and its determination to expand its own nuclear program.

Pakistan plans to buy two nuclear reactors from China — a deal that alarms the United States because it is cloaked in secrecy and is being conducted outside the global nonproliferation regime. Administration officials said they did not know if Mrs. Clinton planned to raise the purchase.

Relations could be further tested if the Obama administration decides to place a major Pakistani insurgent group, the Haqqani network, on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. Islamabad maintains ties to the group through its intelligence service, and it is seeking to exploit those connections as a way to extend its influence over Afghanistan.

For all that, tensions between the two sides have ebbed since Mrs. Clinton’s last visit here in October, when she was peppered with hostile questions in public meetings and bluntly suggested that people in the Pakistani government know the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar.

“We needed to change the core of the relationship with Pakistan,” said Richard C. Holbrooke, the special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan. “The evolution of the strategic dialogue, and the fact that we are delivering, is producing a change in Pakistani attitudes.”

Mr. Holbrooke noted a U-turn in Pakistan’s policy on issuing visas to American diplomats. For months, Pakistani officials had held up those applications, creating a huge backlog and frustrating the United States. But Pakistan issued 450 visas in the last five days, he said.

Mr. Holbrooke conceded that public-opinion polls toward the United States had yet to show much of a change. Mrs. Clinton may receive more criticism on Monday at a town-hall meeting in Islamabad. Her visit, which was not announced due to security concerns, is being conducted under tight security.

Vali Nasr, a senior advisor to Mr. Holbrooke, said it was unrealistic to expect “to change 30 years of foreign policy of Pakistan on a dime.” But he said, “On foreign policy issues, we’re seeing a lot more convergence.”

The United States is encouraged by the burgeoning dialogue between President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and Pakistani leaders, including the chief of the staff of the army, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. Any resolution of the war, Mr. Holbrooke said, must involve Pakistan.

While American officials would like to see a more aggressive Pakistani military push in North Waziristan, the stronghold of the Haqqani network, they praise the military’s campaigns in South Waziristan and the Swat Valley, where Taliban insurgents had also made gains.

Pakistan’s battle against insurgents has exacted a fearful civilian toll. Last week, a suicide bomber killed 45 people, and injured 175, in an attack on a 1,000-year-old Sufi shrine in Lahore. Many Pakistanis blame the American-led war in Afghanistan for fomenting anti-Pakistan terrorism.

A coalition of protest groups issued a statement Sunday, timed to Mrs. Clinton’s arrival, which calls for an end to the war in Afghanistan and for Americans and Pakistanis who are involved in clandestine air strikes on Pakistani targets to be tried for war crimes.

Mrs. Clinton is to meet General Kayani on Monday, after meetings on Sunday with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani. She was also scheduled to meet Pakistani business leaders and the head of the Pakistani opposition, Nawaz Sharif.

Mrs. Clinton has brought a shopping-bag full of commitments for Pakistan, drawn from the $7.5 billion in non-military aid, over five years, pledged by Congress last year. The emphasis is on basic services like electricity and water, politically-charged issues in this country, particularly during the hot summer.

“Our commitment is broad and deep,” said Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, who is with Mrs. Clinton. “We will not do what we’ve done in the past.”

Administration officials said the project to upgrade Pakistan’s creaky power grid, which involves building hydroelectric dams and rehabilitating power plants, had helped reduce chronic power outages. But on the day Mrs. Clinton landed, television reports here warned of further outages.

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