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Updated: May 8, 2011 03:22 IST

Mood turns to anger in Pakistan

Anita Joshua
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Pakistan's ISI Chief Major Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha [L] on the flight deck aboard USS Abraham Lincoln. File photo
Pakistan's ISI Chief Major Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha [L] on the flight deck aboard USS Abraham Lincoln. File photo

Shock and confusion over the circumstances in which al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan is slowly but steadily transforming into anger and on Saturday saw demands from various quarters for the scalp of the powers that be in both the civil and military leadership.

As details of the U.S. raid have begun drying up, a fresh set of rumours and speculations began gaining currency. The most significant of them was of ISI Director-General Shuja Pasha resigning/offering to resign as there is a growing perception that someone should take responsibility for the breach of sovereignty going by the official narrative that the U.S. entered Pakistani airspace without informing Pakistan.

The Inter Services Public Relations stoutly denied the rumours which also said there was no merit in reports suggesting that he was on his way to Washington to explain how Pakistan remained unaware of bin Laden's presence in Abbottabad.

Media reports claim that bin Laden's Yemeni wife Amal Ahmed Abdul Fattah told her interrogators that they had been living in Abbottabad for five years.

Meanwhile, the former Foreign Affairs Minister, Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, opened a broadside against the Pakistan People's Party-led federal government by demanding the resignations of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani.

Mr. Qureshi was stripped off his portfolio earlier this year over differences with the party leadership during the Raymond Davis stand-off with the U.S.


Though the government had drawn flak in Parliament through the week for the operation and the drubbing that Pakistan's image has got globally — with the country being accused of both complicity and incompetence — the gloves are now clearly off. Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Nisar Ali Khan said the government should resign.

When reporters pointed out that gathering intelligence and defending the boundaries were the responsibilities of the ISI and the Army, Chaudhry Nisar reminded the media about Mr. Gilani's recent statement in Parliament when he said the ISI is subservient to the government and its every step has the government's backing.

While the ISI and the Army are being openly criticised in a country where the two institutions have been held in considerable awe due to their influence over the polity, the federal government's decision to go in for a Cabinet expansion on the very evening of the U.S. operation and Mr. Gilani going ahead with his scheduled Paris visit a day later have added to the anger.

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