TODAY -

Gilani slams US for violating Pak sovereignty
Source: The Sangai Express / (Agencies)

Islamabad, May 08 2011: Facing all round attack over the US secret operation that killed Osama bin Laden, Pakistan has fired a salvo at Washington saying it should not have taken a shortcut and bypassed Islamabad, violating the country's sovereignty.

Islamabad has also made it clear that it will take "some time" for biletaral ties between the US and Pakistan to normalise.

The Pakistan establishment has come under stinging criticism in the wake of the unilateral US action as also for its claim that it had no knowledge of the al Qaeda chief's presence in Abbotabad.

"There was no need to (for the US to take) a shortcut or to bypass Pakistan," Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told reporters who accompanied him on an official visit to France.

In view of the longstanding relations with the US, Pakistan's sovereignty should not have been violated, he said.

Reacting to Monday's operation by US special forces inside Pakistani territory, Gilani said the issue of violation of sovereignty was a matter of concern for the country, particularly in view of the cooperation with the US in intelligence and defence.

He said relations with the US had seen many ups and downs in the past, including the incident of CIA contractor Raymond Davis, who was arrested after he killed two men in Lahore, and the killing of bin Laden.

Bin Laden was killed along with his son, two al-Qaeda couriers and a woman during the pre-dawn raid by US forces on a compound located a short distance from the Pakistan Military Academy in Abbottabad, 80 kms from the federal capital Islamabad.

Gilani had earlier sought to deflect criticism of his government's failure to detect bin Laden by describing it as an "intelligence failure of the whole world" .

During the interaction with reporters who accompanied him to France, Gilani said US President Barack Obama had acknowledged Pakistan's contribution in the war on terrorism and ongoing intelligence-sharing between the two countries.

Asked about the difference of opinion in various quarters of the government regarding the US military operation against bin Laden, Gilani said he would make a policy statement in the Senate or upper house of parliament.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's media regulatory watchdog has barred live broadcasts by major foreign television channels from the garrison city of Abbottabad, where Osama bin Laden was killed by US forces, in an apparent bid to clamp down on coverage of the incident.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority said it had "stopped the foreign satellite TV channels from illegal uplinking of signals and live covering of news from Abbottabad" .

PEMRA's order affected several major foreign news channels, including CNN, BBC, Fox News, NBC News, Al-Jazeera, Voice of America and Sky News.

Foreign journalists poured into Abbottabad in the wake of bin Laden's killing amidst interest abroad at the al Qaeda chief's presence at a compound located a stone's throw from an elite military academy.

Authorities initially gave the media limited access to bin Laden's compound but it was later sealed by the police and the army.

Foreign journalists were asked to leave Abbottabad yesterday.

PEMRA's decision to clamp down on broadcasts by foreign channels is being linked by observers to the Pakistani government and military's unease over coverage of perceived failures of security agencies in detecting bin Laden's presence in a city located 120 km from Islamabad.

The foreign channels had been issued show cause notices and asked to stop their "illegal activity immediately", said a statement issued by PEMRA.

It further said that the body "issues temporary uplinking for covering any event live from Pakistan for a specific event and time" .

"PEMRA, being a regulator, is steadfast in discharging its regulatory responsibility and ensuring level playing field for all stakeholders," the statement said.

Representatives of some foreign news channels told the media that they were not airing news live from Abbottabad.

Representatives of the foreign media also fanned out to Haripur near Abbottabad yesterday following news reports that bin Laden's Yemeni widow had told investigators that the al Qaeda chief lived in a village near Haripur before moving to Abbottabad.


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