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  • 5/8/2011

Qureshi urges resignations over U.S. violation of Pakistan's sovereignty


Pakistan's former foreign minister called on the country's president and prime minister to resign Saturday following the American violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty on May 2.

Former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani are the ones who should be held responsible.

“This is a great violation of our sovereignty, but it is for the president and prime minister to resign and no one else,” Qureshi told reporters in the central Pakistani city of Lahore.

The Pakistani military on Saturday denied reports that Pakistan's top spy chief, Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, planned to resign in the wake of the U.S. raid on Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, an army town only two-and-a-half hours' drive from the capital.

Pasha is the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, which is part of the military and has been criticized for allegedly not knowing that Bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad for up to six years.

It is unclear where Bin Laden was located before he moved to Abbottabad. Residents of Chak Shah Mohammad, a small village close to Abbottabad, denied reports Saturday that Bin Laden had lived there for two and a half years with his family before moving to Abbottabad.

“I don't think the kind of people you and the intelligence agencies are looking for are here or have ever lived here,” said Mohammed Shazad Awan, a former army soldier who has driven a public minibus in the area for the last 12 years.

But residents of Abbottabad were also not aware that Bin Laden had been living there for such a long time.

Awan, who works on the side as an informant for the government, said many Pakistani intelligence operatives were in Chak Shah Mohammad on Friday asking whether Bin Laden had lived there.

The New York Times reported that Bin Laden and his family lived in Chak Shah Mohammad, citing unnamed Pakistani officials who said the information came from one of Bin Laden's three wives who was picked up from his compound after the raid.

A senior Pakistani intelligence official said he could neither confirm nor deny the report. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with the agency's policy.

Qureshi, the former foreign minister, said Pakistan's parliament should conduct an inquiry into the raid in Abbottabad. Qureshi is now a lawmaker for the ruling Pakistan People's Party but has clashed with party leaders ever since he was pushed out as foreign minister in February.

Qureshi has said he was forced to resign because of his comments on the case of Raymond Allen Davis, a CIA contractor who shot and killed two Pakistanis in January in Lahore, apparently in self-defense. Qureshi insisted Davis did not enjoy blanket diplomatic immunity, but he was ultimately released after the families of the victims were compensated.

Political analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi said Qureshi likely called for Zardari and Gilani to resign because he was angry with the leadership of the ruling party and wanted to score some political points.

Rizvi called Qureshi's comments “unfortunate” in an interview with Express 24/7 TV because they came at a time when national unity is needed in the face of mounting problems over the killing of Bin Laden on Pakistani soil.

At the same time, Rizvi said that the government has handled the situation poorly.

Both the U.S. and Pakistan need to stop issuing hard-hitting public statements about the raid because continued fights over the events surrounding Bin Laden's death will undermine vital counterterrorism cooperation, he said.

U.S. officials have questioned how Bin Laden could have stayed hidden in Abbottabad without Pakistan's knowledge. The Pakistani army, in turn, has blasted the U.S. for violating the country's sovereignty and has warned that any similar raids will prompt Islamabad to reevaluate its relationship with Washington.

Source: tehrantimes.com

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