Pakistan's Prime Minister Defiant In Bin Laden Speech

Guy Benson
Posted: May 09, 2011 1:23 PM
In a post on President Obama's recent 60 Minutes appearance, Kevin asks, "what did Pakistan know about Bin Laden?"  The New York Times reports that Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Gilani addressed Parliament on that very subject today and sounded anything but contrite:

In an address before Parliament on Monday, Prime Minister Yousaf Gilani made clear that Pakistani officials at the highest levels accepted little responsibility for the fact that Bin Laden was able to hide in their country for years.

Instead, he obliquely criticized the United States for having driven Bin Laden into Pakistan, condemned its violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, and called the Qaeda leader’s presence in Pakistan an intelligence failure of the “whole world.”

He said it was “disingenuous” for anyone to blame the ISI or the army of being “in cahoots” with Bin Laden, something American officials suspect but say they have no proof of.

Gilani also reiterated the bellicose admonition that future unannounced US incursions onto Pakistani territory would be met with the "full force" of his nation's military:

Many expected the prime minister to use his speech to give an accounting of what Pakistan knew about Bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan, but instead he focused on the how the raid was a breach of Pakistani sovereignty, and warned that a repeat of such a raid to capture other high profile terrorists could be met with “full force.”

He defended the ISI as the best in the world, describing the agency as a “national asset” that had done more than any other intelligence agency to take on Al Qaeda. “No other country in the world and no other security agency has done so much to interdict Al Qaeda than the ISI and our armed forces,” he said.

Mr. Gilani’s account of the history of Al Qaeda essentially blamed the United States for allowing Islamic militants to take hold in Pakistan. “We didn’t invite Osama bin Laden to Pakistan or Afghanistan,” he said.

Finally, in a calculated slap at the United States, Pakistani officials have (again) leaked the name of the CIA's Islamabad station chief to the local press, which the Times says "complicates" the agency's intelligence operations in the region:

For the second time in five months, the Pakistani authorities have embarrassed the Central Intelligence Agency by leaking the name of the C.I.A. station chief in Islamabad to Pakistani news media, a deliberate effort to complicate the work of the American spy agency in the aftermath of the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, American officials said.

The publication of the name demonstrated the tilt toward a near adversarial relationship between the C.I.A. and the Pakistani spy agency, the Inter Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI, since the Bin Laden raid. It appeared to be aimed at showing the leverage the Pakistanis retain over American interests in the country, both sides said.

Taken together, Gilani's speech and the outing of a top CIA operative amount to extremely provocative acts from a US ally that Charles Krauthammer calls "indispensable."  Pakistan has received billions in US foreign aid over the last decade.  Money well spent?  It's a complex question, and one that Congress ought to be seriously discussing.