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A poll found that three-fourths of Pakistanis oppose the U.S. raid to kill Bin Laden and only 11 percent approve. A little more than half say that the county is at greater risk from Al-Qaeda as a result of it. The anger has caused some members of the ruling coalition and the opposition to stage a walkout and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, leader of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, has taken the lead in criticizing the government. He called the raid a “big blow to national sovereignty, independence and self-respect.”
“The Abbottabad operation was a serious attack on the sovereignty of Pakistan and the nation is looking at recent developments with concern and wants to know who is responsible for the situation,” Sharif said.
Another senior member of Sharif’s party emphasized that Gilani gave his speech in English and accused him of trying to “appease his [U.S.] masters.” Former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is asking for Gilani and President Zardari to resign along with military officials responsible for failing to stop the raid. He also wants the parliament to investigate the military.
Gilani runs the risk of losing support to his opponents like the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and former Prime Minister Sharif because of the outrage. This is dangerous for the world because of Sharif’s past.
A document released by Wikileaks shows that the Foreign Minister of Afghanistan in 2007 described Sharif as “the author of Islamic radicalism in our region.” The president of Sharif’s party is alleged in another document to have told the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group of pending U.N. sanctions after it carried out attacks in Mumbai in 2008, giving it time to withdraw funds from its bank accounts.
In 1998, TIME Magazine wrote that Sharif “contends that only a strict adherence to Shari’a—which relies on the Koran and on the Sunna, a record of the Prophet Muhammad’s deeds and sayings—can save Pakistan from ‘corruption and maladministration’.” The article was describing Sharif’s move towards Sharia-based governance, not the application of a personal form of Sharia on an individual basis.
Former ISI officer and close friend of Osama Bin Laden, Khalid Khawaja, claims that Sharif met with Bin Laden multiple times and that Bin Laden helped him develop a relationship with the Saudi Royal Family. Ali Mohammed, who was Al-Qaeda’s special projects coordinator in the mid-1990s, says that Bin Laden gave Sharif $1 million for his favorable stance towards the Taliban. There have also been reports that Bin Laden contributed to Sharif’s campaign to become Prime Minister in 1990.
The Pakistani government now, out of political necessity if nothing else, must take a more forcefully anti-American position. The U.S.-Pakistani relationship has completely changed in the past two weeks and is likely to become even worse.
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