Asked if he would deny that the ISI had assisted the CIA in the May 2, 2011 Abbottabad operation in which OBL was killed, FO spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal says: “I neither deny nor confirm…it is up to the ISI to comment on this.”
Asked if he would deny that the ISI had assisted the CIA in the May 2, 2011 Abbottabad operation in which OBL was killed, FO spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal says: “I neither deny nor confirm…it is up to the ISI to comment on this.”

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office would not say if Pakistan helped the United States in executing the 2011 raid on Al Qae­da leader Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad, but ins­ists that initial lead was shared with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) by the country’s premier spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

FO spokesman Dr Moham­mad Faisal, when asked if he would deny that the ISI assisted the CIA in the May 2, 2011, Abbottabad operation in which OBL was killed, said: “I neither deny nor confirm…it is up to the ISI to comment on this.”

The controversy over Pakistan’s role in the Abbottabad operation was rekindled when Prime Minister Imran Khan, in an interview with Fox News during his visit to the US, said: “It was the ISI which gave the information which led to the location of Osama bin Laden. If you ask CIA, it was the ISI which gave the initial location through the phone connection.”

Pakistani leaders had immediately after the raid acknowledged that they had provided leads about OBL whereabouts to the CIA, but later denied any cooperation because of public outcry over violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty by US Navy Seals landing in Abbottabad and eliminating the Al Qaeda leader, who had been on the run for years.

Spokesperson says that unlike the past there were no demands of ‘do more’ during the PM’s visit to the US

President Barack Obama, while announcing OBL elimination, had also praised Pakistan for its cooperation. He had then said: “It’s important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding.”

Pakistani security agencies had arrested one of the Kuwaiti brothers, who were trusted aides to OBL, in October 2010 and recovered some papers written in Arabic from him. Those papers were then shared with the CIA, which provided clues to the Americans about the presence of a high-profile target. Apparently, this was the clue that Pakistani leaders had mentioned soon after the raid and what PM Khan referred to in his interview.

Mr Khan’s remarks in the TV interview were in response to often repeated criticism in the US that Pakistan did not help much in the fight against terrorism, particularly in the capture of OBL.

“The statement of the prime minister refers to an initial lead regarding Osama bin Laden, which was given by Pakistan and is an already well-known fact,” Dr Faisal said about the prime minister’s interview.

Mediation on Kashmir

Commenting on PM Khan’s visit to the US, the FO spokesman said it had “brought a new impetus in relations between Pakistan and USA” because of which the relationship has been “reset”.

He said the talks between PM Khan and President Donald Trump focused on building a broad-based and enduring partnership between Pakistan and the United States and strengthening cooperation between the two countries to bring peace, stability and economic prosperity to South Asia.

The two leaders, he said, acknowledged the immense opportunity and potential for mutually beneficial collaboration in diverse fields such as trade, investment, energy, economic connectivity and defence and security cooperation.

Dr Faisal said that unlike the past there were no demands of “do more” during the prime minister’s visit to the US as both countries were desirous of building a sustained and mutually beneficial relationship.

The FO spokesman asked Indian leaders and media to respond “maturely” to discussion on Kashmir as the dispute could only be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy and full implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions.

He was commenting on President Trump’s offer of mediation on Kashmir. “We hope that India will come to the negotiating table and resolve all disputes,” he added.

About the prospects of dialogue with India, Dr Faisal said Pakistan remained committed to dialogue and diplomacy for resolution of outstanding disputes with India, but it was Delhi that was unwilling to talk to Pakistan, adding said that Pakistan cannot resolve these issues unilaterally.

About consular access to Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, the FO spokesman said modalities were being worked out and Pakistan would implement the International Court of Justice’s ruling in favour of the consular access. “Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav has been informed of his rights under Article 36, Paragraph 1(b) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations,” he added.

Published in Dawn, July 26th, 2019

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