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Pakistani PM denies country hid bin Laden

May 10, 2012 at 7:21 AM   |   Comments

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LONDON, May 10 (UPI) -- Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has rejected claims his country sheltered Osama bin Laden or knew he was living there.

Gilani, speaking about the one-year anniversary of the al-Qaida founder's death in a U.S. commando raid in Abbottabad, said bin Laden lived undetected in the garrison city for so long because of "intelligence failure," The Guardian reported Thursday.

"There is no complicity. I think it's an intelligence failure from all over the world," Gilani said during an interview with the British newspaper.

Gilani is on a five-day visit to London, which includes a meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron. Relations with Britain, he said, were "excellent."

He denied suggestions elements within Pakistan's military may have been aware of bin Laden's hideout.

"Why should we do that? We have suffered the most," he said.

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she thought Ayman al-Zawahiri, who assumed the leadership in al-Qaida after bin Laden's death, was hiding "somewhere in Pakistan."

On Wednesday, however, Gilani said, "If there is any credible information please share it with us, so we can be quick and achieve our targets."

Asked if Taliban leader Mullah Omar also could be hiding in Pakistan, Gilani said, "I don't know. Please tell us."

Gilani spoke positively about relations with the United States, which have been severely strained since U.S.-led NATO forces killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in a raid last November and not formally apologized. Gilani said recent relations with the Obama administration hadn't been "too normal" but that the CIA and Pakistani intelligence were working together to locate high-level targets.

Pakistan is "part of the solution, not part of the problem" in the global fight against terrorism.

"Osama bin Laden wasn't a Pakistani," Gilani told The Guardian.

The United States exacerbated the problem by abandoning Pakistan once the Soviet Union was driven out of Afghanistan.

"The vacuum was filled by militants," he said.

Gilani didn't say what Pakistan's intelligence service learned from bin Laden's wives and children, who left Pakistan for Saudi Arabia last month after being held in Pakistan for nearly a year, nor did he comment on the documents seized at during the commando raid and released last week.

"We have a judicial commission probing into that," he said.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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