ISLAMABAD: Director General Military Operations Maj-Gen Ashfaq Nadeem told the Abbottabad commission on Monday that the US had not informed Pakistani security organisations about the May 2 operation in which Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was killed.
A member of the commission told Dawn that in a detailed briefing at the third meeting of the commission Maj-Gen Nadeem said the strategic sites in the country were well protected.
He claimed that neither the US had apprised Pakistan armed forces of the presence of Bin Laden in Abbottabad nor there was any internal information in this regard. He, however, said that Pakistan and the US had a close liaison and coordination in the war on terror.
“The operation in Abbottabad was not known to any tier in the Pakistan army,” Maj-Gen Nadeem was quoted as saying in a press release issued after the meeting which was presided over by the Chairman of the commission, Justice Javed Iqbal, and attended by former inspector general of police Abbas Khan, former ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi and Lt-Gen (retd) Nadeem Ahmed.
The commission raised questions about safety and protection of nuclear assets and strategic sites. And Maj-Gen Nadeem was quoted in the press release as saying: “The strategic sites are very well protected and are under air and ground protection of Pakistani armed forces, as such not comparable with the Abbottabad incident.”
Maj-Gen Nadeem explained the perspective leading to the Abbottabad operation.
Giving background of the Pak-US joint military operation in the troubled Pak-Afghan area, he said Pakistan, US and International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) conducted anti-militant operations on their sides of the Pak-Afghan border. Plans of operations close to the border were fully shared, he added. “The US acted in an environment of trust and army was, therefore, taken by surprise by the Abbottabad operation,” he said.
He informed the commission about the contacts made by Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani with Chief of Air Staff Rao Qamar, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari soon after having come to know about the incident.
About army posts established along the Pak-Afghan border, he said the army was involved in operations in different areas to combat militancy.
The presence of army, he said, was meant to eliminate militancy so as to establish the writ of the state.
He, however, said that no threat whatsoever was envisaged from Afghanistan and Isaf, both of whom were allies of Pakistan in the fight against terrorism.
Responding to a question asked by a member of the commission regarding presence of Osama in the garrison area in Abbottabad, Maj-Gen Nadeem said the Abbottabad cantonment was an open cantonment, hosted only training institutions and as such no fighting troops were deployed in the garrison.
The press release quoted the general as saying: “Nevertheless these institutions have their own security in place to deal with any security threat.”
A member of the commission told Dawn on condition of anonymity that the commission had taken notice of a recent statement of Lt Gen (retd) Nadeem Ahmed, a member of the commission, saying that the ISI was unaware of the presence of Bin Laden in Abbottabad.
Justice Javed Iqbal barred members of the commission from issuing any statement regarding the investigation.
The commission will met again on August 1 when Inter-Service Intelligence Director General Lt-Gen Shuja Pasha is likely to brief it on ISI’s role in the whole episode.