ISLAMABAD: Amid mounting international and domestic pressure on the government over the May 2 US special forces’ “get Osama bin Laden” operation, the country’s top civilian and military leadership got their heads together on Saturday in an effort to come up with a collective response.
President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Chief of the Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani met for the second time at the Presidency since the Abbottabad operation.
According to an official statement, they ‘comprehensively reviewed’ the situation in the “perspective of Pakistan’s national security and foreign policy”.
The meeting decided that the prime minister would take the nation into confidence through parliament and give a policy statement on Monday.
The Senate is in session and the National Assembly will resume its proceedings on Monday afternoon after a nine-day recess.
A full debate on the issue would be conducted in parliament, the statement said.
The prime minister, who returned from a three-day official visit to France early in the morning, also held consultations with Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hina Rabbani Khar.
The meetings took place at a time when the government was under pressure from the international community to shed light on Osama’s hiding near the country’s premier military academy, besides demands from within the country for heads to roll.
The demand for the resignations of the president, the prime minister and the military leadership has come not only from Opposition Leader in the National Assembly, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan of the PML-N, but also from former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi of the Pakistan People’s Party.
At a news conference in Lahore on Saturday, Mr Qureshi said that besides resignations by President Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, action should be taken against heads of the Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) if they were held responsible by an official inquiry.
The US intrusion has heaped embarrassment on the political and military leadership and the nation has been demanding answers to the disturbing questions the operation has thrown up. Although the government has come up with different statements through the Foreign Office over the past couple of days, still a number of key questions remain unanswered.
Moreover, contradictory statements regarding the working of radars and surveillance system and the technology used by US forces in the May 2 swoop has also confounded the nation.
According to an official handout, the prime minister, in his consultative meetings “emphasised that the sole criterion for formulating our stance is safeguarding of Pakistan’s supreme national interest by all means, by all state institutions, in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Pakistan, who above all value their dignity and honour”.
Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan told a private news channel that the government would make public details of its version about the Abbottabad incident after an inquiry.
“We will definitely take the nation into confidence and make public the real facts about the incident,” she was quoted as saying.