Islamabad, May 8: Pakistan's Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice) Party chief Imran Khan has described the US Special Forces operation against Osama bin laden as a 'cold-blooded murder'.
In an interview to Peter Oborne of the Daily Telegraph, London, the former Pakistani cricket captain said, the whole of Pakistan feeling 'humiliated' after Osama was found hiding in an army garrison town.
Imran accused American forces of committing "cold-blooded murder" when they shot dead the unarmed bin Laden in front of his wife and children.
Khan said that the United States had abandoned civilised values and the rule of law, behaved "like cowboys", and as a result was helping the dead al-Qaeda chief to become a "martyr". And he spoke of "seething anger" in Pakistan as a result of the episode.
Khan said the news that bin Laden was dead was brought to him while he was campaigning in Southern Pakistan for his party in Sindh province.
He said that his immediate reaction was "the horror of him being found in Pakistan". But this national embarrassment was turned into humiliation by the fact that the world's most wanted man was discovered not in remote tribal areas outside state control but in an ordinary city so close to the capital in Islamabad.
But the "most painful thing", said Imran was "that it was not the Pakistanis who got him, the Americans did".
Criticising the actions of the Pakistan government, he said: "Our prime minister 46 hours later congratulates the nation and says that we provided the intelligence. If we knew where he was why did we not take him out? Why did we have to rely on the Americans?"
Khan added that the national humiliation was complete "because it is perceived abroad that the government was playing a double game, that they were hiding him".
Asked if he believed that the Pakistan army really was hosting bin Laden in his safe house in Abottabad. Imran said he found this very hard to believe.
He pointed out that al-Qaeda "were killing Pakistani generals, have attacked the General HQ, the ISI headquarters and the Pakistan army has lost two or three times more soldiers than the all the Nato soldiers put together who have been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. How come they would be protecting the mastermind of the attacks?"
Khan does not hold the Pakistan army free from guilt. He compared the pitifully small sums of money spent on education in Pakistan to the lavish share of the national budget enjoyed by the military.
"If we are spending so much money on the army what is this that the army can't even protect our sovereignty. Why should someone from outside do that?
"I can tell you that in Pakistan I have never seen such anger. Don't think that if there are no street demonstrations that there is not seething anger. The anger is directed at the Pakistan government. It is also now directed at the Pakistan military."
But his strongest criticism was reserved for the United States. "Why did they not just capture Osama Bin Laden and put him on trial? Now the story has emerged that they shot dead an unarmed man in front of his wife and children in cold-blooded murder. The United States talks about the rule of law and human rights. Civilised nations follow the due process of law.
"Why would a civilised nation behave like cowboys? If you did not want to make him a martyr, put him on trial like Saddam Hussein.
"In the end there were no repercussions happened. Saddam is not a hero or a martyr. Had they shot him dead Saddam would have become a cult figure."
Khan speculated that "if they had put Osama on trial he would probably have admitted it and then you would have whatever punishment given like a civilised nation. That would have given the Americans the moral high ground."
He also drew a comparison with the Nazi war criminals put on trial at Nuremberg. He said that a fair trial "would have made Osama Bin Laden less of a cult".
Khan said it is time for the United States to quit Afghanistan: "I conclude by saying that sadly that war is for a tiny minority and the Americans are losing this war in the sense that the Americans are losing the hearts and minds of the people. This war is breeding anti-Americanism.
"They should claim victory. They should say: 'OK we've done our job and we will leave Pakistan and Afghanistan.'"
Imran Khan, the only leading Pakistan politician who feels confident to travel freely in the unruly and dangerous tribal areas, said: "The tribal areas are the most unique place in the world. They have never been conquered in history. Every village is autonomous.
"It has its own parliament and its own jury system. It never recognized central authority. The tribes only get together when the foreigner comes. The British understood this."
Without the common western enemy, he said, the Pashtoun tribes would deal with the menace of al-Qaeda, adding that tribal leaders had already handed over al-Qaeda operatives to the authorities.
Khan's immediate objective is to lead the battle against the use by the United States of unmanned drone missiles.
To conclude he quoted Winston Churchill: "War is too important a matter to be left to the generals."