World

Pakistan commits to defeating terror

Pakistani officials say the death of Osama bin Laden is an example of the country's dedication to rooting out terrorism, even as questions arise about how the world's most wanted man was able to live in a military town just 150 kilometres from the capital of Islamabad.

Bin Laden's hiding place raises questions about country's complicity

Supporters of the Pakistani religious party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam rally Monday in Quetta to condemn the killing of Osama bin Laden. (Arshad Butt/Associated Press)

Pakistani officials say the death of Osama bin Laden is an example of the country's dedication to rooting out terrorism, even as questions arise about how the world's most wanted man was able to live in a military town just 150 kilometres from the capital of Islamabad.

The al-Qaeda leader was killed in a luxury house in the town of Abbottabad not far from a Pakistani military academy. The compound, built about five years ago, is only 200 metres from the foremost training institute for the Pakistan military.

Pakistan's first official statement about the operation to kill bin Laden did not address these concerns. Instead, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said his death showed the resolve of this country and the world to battle terrorism.

Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf, shown during an interview in Dubai on Monday, said the 'killing [of Osama bin Laden] was the success of all peace-loving people of the world.'

Pakistan's former president, Pervez Musharraf, who is eyeing a political comeback, said the "killing was the success of all peace-loving people of the world."

But he also said the Americans should not have been allowed to operate independently in the country.

One Pakistani official said the choppers took off from a Pakistani air base, suggesting some co-operation in the raid. U.S. President Barack Obama said Pakistan had provided some information leading to the raid, but did not thank the country in his statement on bin Laden's death.

Pakistan's intelligence agency and the CIA have co-operated in joint raids before against al-Qaeda suspects in Pakistan on several occasions since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But U.S. and Pakistani officials indicated this mission was too important to let anyone know more than a few minutes in advance.

Pakistan's foreign office hailed the death as a breakthrough in the international campaign against militancy, and noted al-Qaeda had killed thousands of Pakistani civilians and security officers.

It stressed that the operation to kill bin Laden was an American one, and did not mention any concerns that Pakistani officials may have been protecting bin Laden in some way. Domestically, the already weak government may yet face criticism by political opponents and Islamists for allowing U.S. forces to kill bin Laden on its soil, but there were no signs of a major backlash Monday.

Afghans vindicated bin Laden was in Pakistan 

In Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai strongly condemned the U.S. and other forces for focusing attacks on his country when bin Laden was in Pakistan.

Karzai's message was essentially, "'We told you so,'" CBC reporter Susan Ormiston said from London.

Karzai said Afghanistan had long warned that bin Laden was in neighbouring Pakistan and that Afghan villages should have been spared from bombing.

"He's stirring up a little bit of resentment against the NATO forces that are conducting the war there now," Ormiston said. 

Karzai called Sunday, when Obama announced bin Laden's death, "a very important day" while speaking to an assembly of government officials in Kabul, as the hall erupted in applause. 

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"For years we have said that the fight against terrorism is not in Afghan villages and houses," said Karzai. "It is in safe havens, and today that was shown to be true."

Karzai offered his appreciation to international and Afghan forces who have lost their lives in the nearly 10-year war in Afghanistan and expressed hope that bin Laden's death could mean the end of terrorism.

However, Taliban in both Afghanistan and Pakistan have already promised retaliation.

Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan said that because of bin Laden's assassination, Pakistan had become the No. 1 target for the Taliban.

Ahsan criticized the U.S., saying "America was chasing Osama for almost 10 years," comparing the attack to the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, which was carried out in December 2007.

The U.S. closed its embassy in Islamabad and its consulates in Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar on Monday for fear of unrest.

Afghan men gather Monday at a restaurant in Kabul to watch television coverage announcing the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. (Musadeq Sadeq/Associated Press )

Various world leaders welcomed news of the deadly raid, congratulating the U.S. for killing bin Laden.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said bin Laden's death was a triumph for Washington and its allies in their "war on terror." A statement from the Israeli leader's office said Netanyahu spoke to Obama by telephone and "praised the United States on behalf of Israeli citizens."

"This is the fate that evil killers deserve," said outgoing Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, deploring the harm that bin Laden did to "the image of Islam and Arab causes."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the killing of bin Laden was an important blow against international militancy.

"The message that today sends is that acts of terrorism do not remain unatoned, and that should be clear today to all followers of terrorism," Merkel told reporters in Berlin.

The news was also welcomed by former British prime minister Tony Blair who said Obama and the U.S. team deserved everybody's "deep thanks."

"The really important thing is that this operation shows that no matter how difficult it is, how long it takes, however much the perpetrator of violence tries to hide, if you, by acts of terror, kill innocent civilians, we will find you and we will bring you to justice," Blair said.

At the United Nations, the Security Council welcomed the news that bin Laden would never again be able to commit terrorist acts and urged all countries to intensify their efforts to fight global terrorism.

The U.N.'s most powerful body held a special session late Monday to adopt a statement appealling to all countries "to work together urgently to bring to justice the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of terrorist attacks."

Those who followed or sympathized with bin Laden expressed shock and dismay, or vowed revenge.

Salah Anani, a Palestinian-Jordan militant leader accused of links to al-Qaeda, said, "There will be soon be another leader."

The leader of the Palestinian militant Hamas government in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, condemned the killing, saying the operation marked "the continuation of the American oppression and shedding of blood of Muslims and Arabs."

With files from The Associated Press

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