MULTAN: Ex-Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has disclosed that former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had, during a visit to Pakistan much before the Abbottabad operation by the US, shared her apprehensions that Osama bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan.
“Condoleezza Rice had visited Pakistan and her apprehensions were that he (OBL) was in Pakistan”, Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani told this correspondent during an interview by this correspondent for the online show Talk Shock. [The complete show is available on the YouTube and Facebook pages of Talk Shock and Geo News]. Syed Yusuf Raza 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 gave a surprise visit to Islamabad coming directly from New Delhi soon after the Mumbai attacks.
When asked how he responded to Rice’s information, Gilani said: “When she shared that, I said it was disinformation.” On whether it was a shock when OBL was found in Abbottabad, he said that it was an intelligence failure of the world. Responding to this correspondent’s 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 the National Assembly, questioning OBL’s presence in Pakistan. He answered that Pakistan’s motive was to stop the international media because OBL was not a Pakistani citizen and came from abroad. Was he given a complete picture by the ISI regarding OBL or was the entire story not shared with him? To this, Gilani responded that he “used to get briefings and they were very clear.”
He said that during the war on terror ISI and the CIA cooperated closely and all the high-value targets were achieved with the help of the CIA and ISI: “We had achieved other targets, we would also have achieved this one [OBL].” During the interview, Gilani also shared that he has had a close relationship with former COAS Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and former ISI chief Ahmad Shuja Pasha.
Gilani told this correspondent that he would be given intelligence briefings on a regular basis. When asked about the status of civil-military relations during his tenure, he declared them exemplary. When his attention was drawn to the fact that he had differences with the then military establishment during the Memogate case following the Abbottabad operation, he said that there was only one time when they had a difference of opinion and that was on the implementation of NRO verdict of the Supreme Court. He also shared that when his son was abducted by militants, everyone helped him. Yusuf Raza Gilani also shared that he has a lot of respect for General Kayani and General Pasha and has no regrets about them.