Washington: Surprised that Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was living in an affluent suburb of Islamabad, Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf has demanded an investigation into the failure of intelligence agencies to get any clue about this.
"I do understand that because he being there in the town of Abbottabad is surprising. It surprises me also. However, having said that, I am very sure that there is no complicity involved in this," Musharraf told MSNBC.
"I cannot imagine that ISI high command or army were abetting or harboring Osama bin Laden there. That cannot be the case. However, it is a case of acute failure of intelligence, which I think needs to be investigated. And all responsible need to be brought to book," Musharraf said.
The former Pakistani President said it is very shockingly embarrassing that bin Laden was found living such close to the Pakistani military academy.
"We are talking a lot about high walls and barbed wire. In the frontier province, there are a lot of houses with high walls and barbed wire. And therefore they do not arouse such suspicion as they would in the United States or anywhere else," 67-year-old Musharraf said.
"I've seen a lot of interview on the television and a lot of people who are around that house being asked whether they knew that Osama bin Laden was there. They don't know. So, if they didn't know who was living there. I don't believe that. But even if he was there for whatever duration, if the people around couldn't know, it is possible that ISI also did not know. However, I don't want to absolve them of the responsibility of they should have known," he said.
Musharraf also criticised the US, saying it violated Pakistan's sovereignty by carrying out covert operation against bin Laden without informing authorities in Islamabad.
"I do know the US policy that wherever they had declared that as far as Osama bin Laden is concerned, that whenever they can't get the actionable intelligence on him, they will act anywhere in the world. But that was your policy," he said.
"That US policy doesn't go well with the sovereignty of any other country for that matter. Inside Pakistan, the people's sensitivity of even drones violating our sovereignty is against -- now troops coming in, helicopters and taking action is not acceptable to the people of Pakistan, and it does violate our sovereignty," he said.
"In the past, whenever we acted against many, many dozens of Al Qaeda operatives, senior ones, including Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, it was always intelligence cooperation. We cooperated with each other, identified, located these targets. And it was always Pakistan forces, whether it was law enforcement agencies or police rangers or army -- that is what used to happen," he said.
"Now, in this case, it was not done. Therefore, I would always hear that it was a violation of our sovereignty." "This is unfortunate. That is a lack of trust... If we are to fight terrorism and extremism together, if we have to defeat Taliban and Al Qaeda, we have to have trust in each other," Musharraf argued.
Story first published:
May 05, 2011 12:13 IST