The Bin Laden raid has caused a fierce backlash in Pakistan as the U.S. is accused of violating the country’s sovereignty. The Pakistani government now faces enormous pressure, at home and from the U.S., and has chosen to tote an anti-American line and deny any wrongdoing. This atmosphere is giving momentum to the government’s political opponents who are pushing it to become even more hostile to the U.S.
As written here last week, the Pakistani government had to know that the Abbottabad compound was built to hide a person of extremely high value. After all, a senior army officer lives right next door only 80 yards away. If it did not, then the country’s military, government and intelligence services are extraordinarily incompetent. Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani, however, denies that is the case and portrays his government as being both competent and innocent.
“Yes, there has been an intelligence failure. It is not only ours but of all the intelligence agencies in the world,” Gilani said. He added that it is “disingenuous for anyone to blame Pakistan…for being in cahoots with al-Qaeda.”
He said that Bin Laden deserved to die but harshly condemned the raid and said “Pakistan reserves the right to retaliate with full force” should a raid like the one that killed Bin Laden be repeated. “Any attack against Pakistan’s strategic assets, whether overt or covert, will find a matching response,” he declared.
Earlier, the Pakistani army said it would bring down the number of American soldiers in the country to “minimum essential” levels and the Army Chief of Staff said there would be a “review on the level of military/intelligence cooperation with the United States” if another raid occurs.
Gilani said an investigation into how Bin Laden was able to hide in Pakistan would take place, but it is doubtful whether it will result in any meaningful action. The ambassador to the U.S. said “heads will roll once the investigation has been completed.” This was contradicted by the Interior Minister who said no resignations would be necessary.
Gilani and the Pakistani government are being criticized for failing to stop the raid and are now trying to ride a wave of anti-American sentiment, with some angry over the death of Bin Laden and others angry over the willingness of the U.S. to act on Pakistani territory. About 1,000 people have protested in Abbottabad and between 800 and 1,200 protested in Quetta and called for retaliation against the U.S. for the death of Bin Laden. The Supreme Court Bar Association is planning nationwide protests.
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