Pakistan broke its silence over the death of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden about four hours after it was announced to the world by U. S. President Barack Obama and categorically stated that this was a U.S. operation.

In the first official confirmation from Pakistan on bin Laden’s death, the Foreign Office said: “This operation was conducted by the US forces in accordance with declared US policy that Osama bin Laden will be eliminated in a direct action by the US forces, wherever found in the world.’’

According to the Foreign Office, Mr. Obama telephoned President Asif Ali Zardari earlier in the day on the successful U. S. operation which resulted in bin Laden’s killing. Stating that bin Laden’s death illustrates the resolve of the international community including Pakistan to fight and eliminate terrorism, the Foreign Office added that it constitutes a major setback to terrorist organisations around the world.

Referring to Pakistan’s stated policy that it would not allow the country’s soil to be used for terrorist attacks against any country, the Foreign Office said the political leadership, Parliament, state institutions and the whole nation are fully united in their resolve to eliminate terrorism.

The statement was issued soon after details of the operation began coming from Washington, including the fact that the U.S. had kept the exercise a closely guarded secret and had not shared details with any country including Pakistan. What remains unclear in these circumstances is how U.S. helicopters went unnoticed in Pakistani airspace, that too in a cantonment area close to the federal capital and halfway between the Durand Line and the Line of Control.

While asserting that the operation was entirely US-led, the Foreign Office statement sought to remind the nation that the Al Qaeda had declared war on Pakistan. “Scores of Al-Qaeda sponsored terrorist attacks resulted in deaths of thousands of innocent Pakistani men, women and children. Almost, 30,000 Pakistani civilians lost their lives in terrorist attacks in the last few years. More than 5,000 Pakistani security and armed forces officials have been martyred in Pakistan’s campaign against Al-Qaeda, other terrorist organizations and affiliates.’’

Though the past couple of months have seen Pakistan and the U.S. engage in considerable muscle-flexing over the Central Intelligence Agency creating its own parallel network of spies across the country, the Foreign Office statement draws attention to the effective intelligence sharing arrangements that the country has with several intelligence agencies including the U.S. “Pakistan has played a significant role in efforts to eliminate terrorism’’ and “we will continue to support international efforts against terrorism’’, the Foreign Office asserted.

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