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No need for any Pakistani to feel demoralised over nation's defence capacity: Bashir


May 6, 2011 - Islamabad

In the wake of the United States' unilateral military operation against al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden inside Pakistani territory, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir has emphasised that "there is no need for any Pakistani to feel demoralised" over the country's defence capacity.

al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, who had evaded capture for a decade, was killed Sunday night in a top secret operation involving a small team of US Special Forces in Abbottabad city, located 50 kilometres northeast of Islamabad and 150 kilometres east of Peshawar.

Many Pakistanis, upset by their intelligence community's failure to locate Bin Laden, were also angered by their military's failure to detect the pair of US military helicopters involved in the 40-minute raid at the most wanted terrorist's sprawling compound.

Addressing a crowded news conference, Bashir said that Pakistanis should feel proud of their country and institutions.

"Pakistan's military and political leadership are well-equipped and mindful of the defence requirements of the country. No Pakistani should feel demoralised in this regard," The News quoted the Foreign Secretary, as saying.

He said that the US operation, which led to the killing of Osama bin Laden, was a covert operation and that Pakistan's armed forces were not consulted before carrying out the raid.

"Pakistan has an 'adequate capacity' to protect itself and that the CIA-led operation was covert. The helicopters managed to evade our radars. The first information we received was when a helicopter crashed. Then we immediately reacted," the Foreign Secretary said in response to allegations that Pakistani intelligence agencies had failed to detect the US helicopters in Pakistani airspace.

Bashir also stated that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has a "brilliant record" in fighting terrorism, and emphasized its success against Al-Qaeda. He also dismissed the speculation that the ISI was providing cover to bin Laden, and termed the notion "absolutely wrong".

He pointed out that the ISI had gathered intelligence that led to the arrest of wanted terrorists like Khalid Shiekh Mohammad from Rawalpindi and Al-Qaeda operational chief Abu Faraj al Libbi from Mardan.

The person involved in the Bali bombings was also picked up from Abbottabad by the intelligence agency, he added, and also cited incidents of apprehending notorious terrorists from Pakistan by its spy agencies.

Bashir also claimed that the CIA and ISI shared intelligence, which led to the identification of bin Laden's hideout in Abbottabad, adding that he ISI provided information on bin Laden's courier, which led the CIA to focus on that compound.

ANI

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