Islamabad, Feb 2 (PTI) Former Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has said that ex-US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had shared her apprehensions with his government that Osama bin Laden was hiding in the country much before American commandos killed the dreaded al Qaeda leader in Abbottabad in 2011.
Gilani served as Pakistan’s prime minister from 2008 till 2012.
Rice visited Pakistan four times while she was in office. She met Gilani in the first week of December 2008 when she made a surprise visit to Islamabad after holding talks in New Delhi soon after the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008.
“Condoleezza Rice had visited Pakistan and her apprehensions were that he (bin Laden) was in Pakistan,” Gilani told Geo News in an interview on Thursday, ahead of the general elections in Pakistan on February 8.
When asked how he responded to Rice’s information, Gilani said: “When she shared that, I said it was disinformation.” Osama bin Laden, one of the world's most notorious terrorist leaders, was killed by US Navy Seals in a stealth operation on May 2, 2011. The 54-year-old Saudi-born militant leader was hiding in the Pakistani garrison city of Abbottabad in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Rice, 69, is an American educator and politician, who served as the national security adviser (2001–05) and secretary of state (2005–09) to US President George W. Bush. She is the current director of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
Gilani, 71, served as the 18th prime minister of Pakistan. He is a veteran leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party and was elected as a Senator in 2021.
On whether it was a shock when bin Laden was found in the Pakistani garrison city of Abbottabad, Gilani said that it was an intelligence failure of the world.
Responding to a question whether he thought it was American intelligence that was conveyed to him via Rice, Gilani said: “If they had any evidence they should have given it to us. We would have helped them because we were against terrorism and we were fighting a war against terrorism and lost many precious lives of military men and civilians who were martyred and we also lost billions of dollars.” Gilani was asked about his speech in Pakistan's National Assembly, questioning bin Laden's presence in Pakistan. He answered that Pakistan’s motive was to stop the international media because bin Laden was not a Pakistani citizen and came from abroad.
Responding to a question if he was given a complete picture by the ISI (spy agency) regarding bin Laden or if the entire story was not shared with him, Gilani responded that he “used to get briefings and they were very clear.” PTI AKJ AKJ