In a blunt rebuttal, Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani on Thursday told Gordon Brown that Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was not in Pakistan as suggested by the British Prime Minister in a strongly-worded statement at the weekend.
Reacting sharply to Mr. Brown’s remarks, Mr. Gilani said: “I doubt the information which you are giving is correct because I don’t think Osama bin Laden is in Pakistan.”
Mr. Gilani, who was speaking to reporters after meeting Mr. Brown in Downing Street, reiterated the Pakistani line that the West had provided no “actionable” or “credible” information about Osama’s whereabouts.
Mr. Brown, who had previously accused Pakistan of not doing enough to track down Osama, chose not to repeat the accusation and instead praised Pakistan’s anti-terror military campaign saying that the country had made “huge sacrifices” in fighting extremism.
This was in sharp contrast to Mr. Brown’s remarks on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Trinidad and Tobago when he told the BBC : “We want, after eight years, to see more progress in taking out these two people at the top of Al-Qaeda, who have done so much damage and are clearly the brains behind many of the operations that have hit Britain….We’ve got to ask ourselves why, eight years after September the 11th, nobody has been able to spot or detain or get close to Osama bin Laden, nobody’s been able to get close to Zawahiri, the number two in Al-Qaeda.”
Mr. Gilani demanded “more clarity” on America’s new Afghanistan strategy following U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan.
“Regarding the new policy, we are carefully examining it… we are looking into how we will be able to implement it and we need more clarity on it as well,” he said.