Islamabad, May 29: The ongoing investigation in Pakistan will uncover the “local support group” that backed slain al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden while he was hiding in the country, Foreign Office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua has said.
“Obviously, there must have been a local support group, presumably consisting of al Qaeda and its affiliates, for bin Laden. This is common sense. The ongoing investigations hopefully will bare the truth,” Janjua said. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during a surprise visit to Pakistan on Friday that there was no evidence that “anyone at the highest levels of the Pakistan government” knew bin Laden was living in Abbottabad, where he was killed in an American raid on May 2. However, Clinton said the Pakistani leadership had acknowledged that “somebody, somewhere was providing some kind of support” to bin Laden.
“Obviously, everyone in Pakistan is also interested to know the answer to that question.
“The answer will be (found) through the investigation that is being carried out,” Janjua said, referring to Clinton's remarks about the al Qaeda leader having some sort of support network.
Janjua did not go into details about the steps the US wants Pakistan to take to flush out al Qaeda elements and to end terrorist sanctuaries that are used by militants to carry out attacks across the border in Afghanistan.
The spokesperson also refused to comment during a news briefing yesterday on reports that Clinton had handed over a list of five terrorists, including commander Ilyas Kashmiri who has been linked to the Mumbai attacks, that the US expects Pakistan to provide intelligence about and possibly target in joint operations.
“These are operational details that I will not go into at this point, nor would I venture into the media speculation on it.
“What we need to do is focus on the larger picture and to ensure that the Pakistan-US relationship remains on track, especially in the context of fighting terrorism and on matters of regional stability,” she said.
Clinton decided only on Tuesday to make the trip to Pakistan only after Islamabad acceded to a list of demands that included allowing CIA access to bin Laden's compound in the garrison city of Abbottabad, The Washington Post reported. Janjua said Pakistan and the US were engaged in a “course correction” for their relationship to ensure “clarity” and strategic coherence.
The bilateral relations had witnessed “a period of stress for the last few months” and Clinton's visit provided an opportunity for an “in-depth exchange of views on all bilateral issues as well as matters relating to stability and security in the region, notably counter-terrorism and Afghanistan”, Janjua said.
“The purpose was to clear misgivings on both sides and to reach better understanding of each other's perspectives,” she added. PTI