Islamabad (AP) – The Pakistani Prime Minister said on Thursday that the United States tortured al-Qaida leader and mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden, a term that reflected a subtle sting on Washington as it primarily is used for honorable figures killed in battle.
Imran Khan made the stab in a grueling budget speech in parliament, attacking his predecessors’ foreign policy, saying Pakistan’s cooperation with the United States in the war on terror was a mistake.
Khan also said that Washington used foul language against Pakistan, blamed Islamabad for his failures in neighboring Afghanistan, and most importantly – refused to tell Islamabad about his operation against Bin Laden in 2011 before conducting the Navy SEALs night raid. The Special Operations Force flew in the middle of the night on May 2, 2011 in the Pakistani military garrison town of Abbottabad on May 2, 2011 and killed Bin Laden and some of his associates.
“We sided with the US in the War on Terror, but they came here and killed him, tortured him and … used foul language against us (and) did not inform us (of the raid), despite the fact that we 70,000 lost to war on terror, Khan said to Parliament.
Washington has repeatedly accused Pakistan of housing the Afghan Taliban and providing a safe haven for the feared Haqqani Network, a Taliban-affiliated company accused of several major attacks in Afghanistan over the years. United States has been declared a terrorist group. Former Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had alleged that the Haqqani network was operated by Pakistan’s main intelligence agency known as ISI.
Pakistan denied the allegations, saying Washington blamed Pakistan for the failure of the US-led coalition of 150,000 soldiers to defeat the Taliban, which are now strongest since they were overthrown in 2001 and rule in about 50% of Afghanistan or rule.
“The way we supported America in the war on terror and the insults we faced in return … They blamed us for every failure in Afghanistan. They held us openly accountable for failing in Afghanistan, “said Khan.
Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were the only countries that recognized the Taliban government, which had housed Bin Laden in planning terrorist attacks against the US. After the 9/11 attacks, Pakistan turned and became an ally of the United States against the Taliban, who were expelled by a US-led coalition in November 2011.
However, opposition legislator Khwaja Mohammed Asif condemned Khan for calling Bin Laden a martyr, saying that the chief of Al-Qaida had brought terrorism to Pakistan.
“He (bin Laden) destroyed my country, but he (Khan) calls him a martyr,” Asif said.
Since the takeover, Khan has claimed that his government has reset and elevated Pakistan-US relations to mutual respect, for which he has also credited the personal connection he has built with President Donald Trump.
“No one offends us now,” said Khan.
Associated Press writer Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this report.
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