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May 8, 2011

Presidency replies to Army criticism of civilians


May 8, 2011

ISLAMABAD: While Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani has meekly spoken on the Abbottabad killing of Osama bin Laden, President Asif Ali Zardari has remained totally mum on the blatant violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty even five days after the incident despite the mounting public outrage.
“Zardari will make a statement at the proper time when he will have something to say,” presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar told The News when reached in Kuwait by phone. He said the day the Abbottabad episode took place a marathon meeting was held in the Presidency in which different aspects were discussed.
After that, Babar said, the Foreign Ministry issued two statements and addressed an equal number of news conferences in which Pakistan’s stance was highlighted. All this took care of the situation emerging out of the May 2 incident, he said, adding that a meeting of corps commanders was held and a statement was issued.
The spokesman said that the prime minister planned to address the Senate on May 9 on the Abbottabad occurrence. He said it was for the PPP to react to ex-Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s demand that Zardari and Gilani should step down and a meeting of its Central Executive Committee should be convened. “He would announce his future plan if he was not allowed to attend it.”
To a question, Farhatullah Babar said that over the past three years a number of meetings had been held in the Presidency with Zardari in the chair in which the anti-terror war was discussed threadbare.
A report in this newspaper said that top most army leaders have accused the civilian leadership of ignoring the war on terror and bypassing the army and intelligence agencies in dealing with the Americans and the present government had not discussed the war on terror with the army even once during the last three years.
At the very outset, the prime minister had dubbed OBL’s killing as a great victory. But there is no reflection of any strong

feelings over the Abbottabad episode in what the prime minister said on Friday: “Keeping in view the longstanding relations with the US, Pakistan’s sovereignty should not have been violated. The issue of violation of sovereignty is a matter of concern for Pakistan. It is particularly so in view of the cooperation with the US in intelligence and defence. There is no need to a shortcut, or to bypass Pakistan. Relations with the US had seen many ups and downs in the past. (After) the incident of Raymond Davis and Osama’s killing it would take some time for the relations to fully normalise between the two countries.”
Zardari spoke on the Abbottabad incident only through an article that appeared in a US paper a day after the American raid. But it did not manifest public sentiments. He took no exception even slightly to the violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. He wrote that Pakistan-US cooperation ultimately led to OBL’s elimination, and noted with satisfaction that the “source of the greatest evil of the new millennium,” has been silenced. He vowed to continue Pakistan’s fight against the terrorists and underlined that Pakistan has been the biggest victim of terror.
Once again on Saturday, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan made a hard hitting statement against Zardari and Gilani and demanded their resignations and said it was the voice of every Pakistani from every nook and corner of the country. “They should answer a myriad of questions or go home. Pakistan’s honour has been slaughtered in which our rulers are a party. When there is a large-scale criticism on Pakistan from different American leaders, the rulers have maintained total silence.”
So far, the harshest reaction has come from the Pakistan Army, which is under pressure because of the Abbottabad episode, and it has admitted shortcomings in developing intelligence on OBL’s presence in Pakistan; ordered an investigation into the circumstances that led to this situation; decided to reduce the strength of US military personnel in Pakistan to the minimum essential; announced that any similar action, violating Pakistan’s sovereignty will warrant a review on the level of military/intelligence cooperation with the US; and reiterated the resolve to defend Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and to fight the menace of terrorism with the support and help of the people of Pakistan.

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