Pakistan denies bin Laden complicity
PM rejects claims intelligence agency 'in cahoots' with al-Qaeda
- Gilani: claims ISI colluded with al-Qaeda 'absurd'
- PM warns of raid 'consequences'
- Obama: bin Laden had 'support network'
Pakistan's prime minister has rejected allegations that officials in his country were complicit in harbouring Osama bin Laden after the United States questioned how the al-Qaeda leader could live undetected there for several years without some support.
Addressing Pakistan's parliament on Monday for the first time since an American military mission killed bin Laden, Yusuf Raza Gilani defended his country's powerful intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and called any allegations the agency was incompetent or worked with al-Qaeda to protect bin Laden "absurd."
"It is disingenuous for anyone to blame Pakistan, or any state institution, including the ISI and armed forces, for being in cahoots with al-Qaeda," Gilani said.
"There has been an intelligence failure — it is not only ours, but all the intelligence agencies of the world."
Gilani said the army will launch a formal probe into how bin Laden could live undetected in the garrison city of Abbottabad, just 60 kilometres from the capital Islamabad.
The prime minister also warned of "serious consequences" from unilateral actions such as the May 2 raid that killed bin Laden, and said any future actions could be met with "full force."
At the same time, Gilani said the U.S. remains a key ally of Pakistan and called the "elimination" of bin Laden, who launched "wave after wave" of attacks against innocent Pakistanis "justice done."
But he added Pakistan reserves the right to protect its sovereignty.
"Pakistan will not relent in this national cause and it's determined not to allow its soil to be used by anyone for terrorism," Gilani said.
The White House said Monday it wants to maintain a "co-operative relationship" with Pakistan, despite tensions over the bin Laden operation on Pakistani soil.
Even before a team of elite Navy SEALs stormed bin Laden's compound a week ago, questions have long been raised about alleged ties between Pakistani intelligence officials and al-Qaeda and insurgent networks fighting U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan.
Relations between the U.S. and its purported anti-terror ally are reportedly at a near all-time low, despite Pakistan receiving more than $3 billion a year in U.S. aid in return for its military cracking down on militants in tribal regions.
Meanwhile, on Monday. Pakistani media reported what they said was the name of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's station chief in Islamabad in an apparent pushback from Pakistani officials left humiliated by the raid.
But he stopped short of accusing Pakistani officials of harbouring the man who planned the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed nearly 3,000.
"We don't know who or what that support network was. We don't know whether there might have been some people inside of government, people outside of government."
CIA Director Leon Panetta stoked emotions in Washington last week, telling lawmakers during a closed-door briefing that Pakistan "was involved or incompetent."
With files from The Associated Press