By Sajjad Hussain
Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday called slain Al-Qaeda chief and 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden a “Shaheed” (martyr) and said that Islamabad faced “embarrassment” by taking part in America’s war on terror.
Speaking in parliament during the budget session, Khan said the American forces entered Pakistan and killed bin Laden without informing Islamabad after which everyone started abusing his country.
“I don’t think there’s a country which supported the war on terror and had to face embarrassment for it. Pakistan was also openly blamed for US’ failure in Afghanistan,” Khan said.
“For Pakistanis across the globe, it was an embarrassing moment when the Americans came and killed Osama bin Laden at Abottabad…martyred him. The whole world started abusing us after that. Our ally came inside our country and killed someone without informing us. And, 70,000 Pakistanis died because of US’ war on terror,” he said.
Bin Laden was killed by US Navy Seals in Pakistan’s Abbottabad in May, 2011.
Khan’s remarks drew criticism from the Opposition.
“Osama bin Laden was a terrorist and our PM called him a martyr. He was behind massacre of thousands,” said Khawaja Asif of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.
In his address, the prime minister also defended his government’s response to the coronavirus crisis, saying there has been no confusion or contradiction in official policies since the start of the pandemic.
“They say again and again that there was confusion … if there was one country whose government did not have confusion, it was ours,” Khan was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.
People give the example of New Zealand when talking about social distancing, he said, adding that “New Zealand has social distancing already” with a low population density.
“I said from day one we had a dual problem; we had to save the people from corona and hunger, and those dying from poverty,” he added, acknowledging that his government had to face “a lot of criticism” at the start and there was pressure to implement a more strict lockdown as was done by India.
Reiterating the “destruction” a sweeping lockdown could cause to a country, Khan said: “India’s reports are in front of the world”.
The number of coronavirus cases in Pakistan crossed 192,000-mark, while the death toll reached 3,903 on Thursday.
Khan also said that his government has devised a plan to further highlight the Kashmir issue at the world level.
Pakistan has been unsuccessfully trying to drum up international support against India for withdrawing Jammu and Kashmir”s special status on August 5, 2019 and bifurcating it into two Union territories.
India has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of Article 370 was its internal matter. It also advised Pakistan to accept the reality and stop all anti-India propaganda.