Pak, military had hand to catch Osama: Mukhtar

Islamabad: A year after Pakistan was left embarrassed by the unilateral US raid that killed Osama bin Laden, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar today said Pakistani government and forces "had a hand" in catching him. He said the al-Qaeda chief was traced through a mobile phone SIM that was found by Pakistani intelligence.

The SIM that was used to track bin Laden was "found lying somewhere" by intelligence operatives, Mukhtar said. He contended that the Pakistan government and military "had a hand" in the operation against the al-Qaeda chief. The SIM was used rarely and only for brief durations, Mukhtar told BBC Urdu.

"The Pakistan government and our forces had a hand in catching him (bin Laden and) in (gathering) information," Mukhtar told the media outside parliament. Pakistan would "transfer" whatever it information it had to the US, he said. Mukhtar acknowledged that the US did not inform Pakistan about the raid against bin Laden but said "we were working together".

Bin Laden was killed by US Navy SEALS in a compound located a stone`s throw from the elite Pakistan Military Academy in the garrison town of Abbottabad on May 2 last year. US officials have said in the past that they were able to zero in on Bin Laden by tracking the mobile phone of one his Pakistani couriers, wjo was killed in the raid. Western media reports have quoted unnamed Pakistani intelligence officials as claiming that they provided details of the SIM that led to the courier.

Mukhtar told BBC that the US and Pakistan had an agreement whereby any evidence on terrorist activities in Arabic or English gathered by Pakistan was handed over to the US while anything in Urdu found by the US was handed over to it. The material found at Bin Laden`s compound is being examined by the Pakistani military, he said adding CDs found within the house were being decoded.