by Amir Saeed
ISLAMABAD: Sartaj Aziz, National Security Adviser, has reportedly sought a clarification from Former Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar with respect to his interview to an Indian channel wherein he claimed that the then Pakistani authorities – civilian and military – knew about the presence of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
After four and a half years since the killing of bin Laden, this is the first time the former defence minister admitted to the then government having knowledge of the whereabouts of the world’s most sought-after terrorist.
A senior official of Foreign Office told Business Recorder on Thursday that there has been a lot of reaction from different circles on Mukhtar’s ‘irresponsible’ interview. “We believe Mukhar should have been extra careful while talking to an Indian channel and that too on the issue of bin Laden’s presence and killing in Pakistan,” he said. Mukthar was the defence minister between 2008 and 2012. He was part of the top five ministers in the cabinet of the then prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.
Political analyst Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi said that Mukhtar’s interview to an Indian channel has raised many questions on the authenticity of his statement and the relevance of the timing of the interview. “Such statements always bring diplomatic embarrassment for Pakistan and one should be extra careful while speaking to international media,” he said.
He said that Mukhtar has denied giving any such statement to Indian channel but the damage has already been done. “The statement has come just days before the prime minister’s visit to the United States and it may have serious repercussions on diplomatic ties between the two countries,” he said.
Rizvi said that Pakistan army and civilian leadership have always denied having any knowledge about presence of bin Laden in Abbottabad; “so the so-called revelation by Ahmad Mukhtar at this time is quite meaningful.”
Major General Rashid Qureshi (Retd), a former aide of General Musharraf, said the ex defence minister is lying as he knew nothing about the developments. “The so-called revelation of Mukhtar has come as a shock to the whole nation and he should apologise to the people for lying about a sensitive issue,” he said.
Source: Business Recorder