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Kayani says 'strategic assets' safe

May 6, 2011 at 12:23 AM   |   Comments

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, May 6 (UPI) -- Pakistan's "strategic assets" are well protected, its military leaders said after a meeting on the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. forces in the country.

Pakistani Army Chief Ashfaq Pervez Kayani met with his top commanders to discuss what is being termed an intelligence failure to locate the al-Qaida leader living in a huge compound in the garrison town of Abbottabad, where U.S. forces launched a pre-dawn raid Monday and killed bin laden.

With the Pakistani government and its military facing criticism at home and abroad because bin Laden was staying in the country unnoticed, Kayani ordered an inquiry into the matter, including how the United States carried out its operation without the Pakistani military's knowledge, Pakistan's Dawn reported.

In the first such military statement since the raid, the commanders sought to assure their people about the country's defense.

"As regards the possibility of similar hostile action against our strategic assets, the forum reaffirmed that unlike an undefended civilian compound, our strategic assets are well protected and an elaborate defensive mechanism is in place," it said.

Dawn reported the Pakistani army planned to seek an immediate reduction in U.S. military presence in the country as a protest against the "unilateral American operation."

Pakistan's Daily Times reported the army wants the United States to reduce its military presence to "minimum essential" levels. The Times also said Kayani made it clear any similar U.S. action would warrant a review of the level of Pakistani-U.S. military-intelligence cooperation.

The Dawn report said Pakistanis indicated the country's sovereignty was violated by the U.S. forces and have raised questions about the size of the country's defense budget and the military's ability to protect strategic installations.

Dawn said the mood at the commanders' meeting was one of betrayal by the United States.

The statement admitted inadequacies in military's intelligence gathering, Dawn reported.

"In the case of Osama bin Laden, while the [CIA] developed intelligence based on initial information provided by [Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence], it did not share further development of intelligence on the case with ISI, contrary to the existing practice between the two services," the statement said.

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