May 3, 2011 / 2:19 AM / 9 years ago

Pakistan's Zardari: bin Laden raid was not joint operation

Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari speaks to journalists after a meeting with France's President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace in Paris in this August 2, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. forces was not a joint operation with Pakistan, the president of Pakistan said in an opinion column published on Monday.

President Asif Ali Zardari, writing in the Washington Post, also dismissed any notion that Pakistan was failing to take action against militants on its territory.

Zardari said the whereabouts of the al Qaeda leader, killed in a town some two hours north of Islamabad, were not known to the Pakistani authorities.

“He was not anywhere we had anticipated he would be, but now he is gone,” he wrote.

“Although the events of Sunday were not a joint operation, a decade of cooperation and partnership between the United States and Pakistan led up to the elimination of Osama bin Laden as a continuing threat to the civilized world.”

The Pakistani leader said it was simply untrue to suggest that his country, as badly hit as any by bin Laden and his militants with 30,000 civilian deaths, was sluggish or unwilling to track down activists.

Even within hours of the operation that killed bin Laden, U.S. lawmakers were asking how he had been able to live in a populated area of Pakistan without anyone in authority knowing about it, possibly for years. Some said it was time to review the billions in aid the United States provides Pakistan.

“Some in the U.S. press have suggested that Pakistan lacked vitality in its pursuit of terrorism or, worse yet, that we were disingenuous and actually protected the terrorists we claimed to be pursuing,” he wrote.

“Such baseless speculation may make exciting cable news, but it doesn’t reflect fact. Pakistan had as much reason to despise al-Qaeda as any nation. The war on terrorism is as much Pakistan’s war as it is America’s. And though it may have started with bin Laden, the forces of modernity remain under serious threat.”

Writing by John Chalmers; Editing by Ron Popeski.

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