KABUL/ISLAMABAD: An opposition party senator in Pakistan has stressed on the federal government to publicize the report to clarify confusions regarding the presence of the slain al-Qaeda head Osama bin Laden in the garrison town of Abbottabad.
Bin Laden was killed in a May, 2011 assault launched by the US Special Forces in Pakistan’s Abbottabad.
“The puzzling event regarding the presence of Osama bin Laden in the high security zone of the country is yet to be resolved,” said Farhatullah Babar, a senior member of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
“A thorough inquiry into visa issuance policies and procedures from 2001 onwards, when the global hunt for bin Laden started, is what is needed,” Babar said in a statement.
He added that there is nothing new or wrong in a letter sent by the Prime Minister to the Foreign Office in 2010, allowing the issuance of visas to American diplomats, including the intelligence personnel.
“However its regurgitation at this time is politically motivated and aimed at diverting attention from the real issue,” he alleged, arguing that national security interests would be advanced only by a credible investigation into visa policies and procedures.
“Investigations must also be made into how many Americans entered Pakistan through the Shamsi airbase in Balochistan with or without visas during the days of General Pervez Musharraf,” the PPP spokesman stressed.
“Such investigations cannot be made through selective leaks or public statements in the media. A starting point can be the Abbottabad Commission probing the bin Laden fiasco,” he added.
Babar furthered that publication of the Abbottabad Commission report would be a comfortable solution to the issuance of visas. “Any other course would not be valid and would be seen as a part of blame game and political witch-hunting.”
The Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has claimed that the interior minister had authorized former Pakistani ambassador to Washington, Hussain Haqqani in 2010 to directly issue diplomatic visas to Americans without clearance of the relevant channels. Aziz added that the document reveals the authorization granted from the office of then Prime Minister, Yousaf Raza Gillani.
Ambassador Haqqani said Friday that he had consulted with the civil and military security wings in the embassy before approving the visa applications. He furthered that any unauthorized visas had not issued by the Pakistani embassy in Washington during his time.
Similarly to clarify his position, former Prime Minister Gillani said in a press conference in his native hometown Multan on Friday that his government followed rules and procedure in issuance of visas, adding that the letter directs the ambassador to ensure timely issuance of visas not bypassing visa terms and conditions. He clarified that visas were supposed to be issued to those recommended by the US State Department.
Gillani added that letter to Hussain Haqqani was given through a proper procedure, not by hand which does not authorize visa issuance to the US Special Forces who launched the Abbottabad raid against bin Laden.
Moreover, he said that the issue of visa issuance to Americans during his tenure was a non-issue and had been brought to public by the Sharif family government to divert attention from others burning issues which matter.
“It is known to all that the US forces came into Pakistan for the operation to kill Osama bin Laden had not any visa at all,” Gillani added.
He demanded an investigation to visa issuance to Americans should be conducted from 2002 to 2017.
He said publication of Abbottabad Commission’s report could answer all the questions that are being raised today.
Pakistan’s Former President Asif Ali Zardari told the Geo News on Wednesday that Hussain did not have the only authority to issue visas to Americans, nor did he ever say anything of the sort. He said that there are many people in the embassy other than the envoy who scramble visas.
However, Hussain Haqqani in an article published Friday in Washington Post claimed that his connection with Obama administration enabled the United States to identify and kill Osama bin Laden. “My contacts with Obama administration led to closer cooperation between Pakistan and the United States in fighting terrorism and eventually enabled the United States to discover and eliminate bin Laden without depending on Pakistan’s intelligence service or military which were suspected of sympathy towards Islamist militants,” read Haqqani’s article.
Haqqani wrote further that the friends whom he developed relations during Obama election campaign were able to ask three years later as National Security Council officials for help in stationing US Special Operations and intelligence personnel on the ground in Pakistan. “I brought the request directly to Pakistan’s civilian leadership, who approved it,” he explained how he responded to the US officials’ request.
Following the US military operation against bin Laden, Haqqani was recalled in November 2011 and was forced to resign as ambassador after Pakistan’s military-intelligence apparatus gained the upper hand in the country’s perennial power struggle.
THE PASHTUN TIMES