Pak warns India against any Osama-like operation

Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday warned India against any Abbottabad-like operation, saying any such "misadventure" would lead to a "terrible catastrophe."

Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir also accused Indian establishment and armed forces of trying to subvert the agenda of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by making statements which were "a matter of concern".

Any country that attempts to "mimic" the unilateral act of the US will find it has made a "basic miscalculation", Bashir said at the first news conference by a senior Pakistani official on the killing of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in the garrison city of Abbottabad near here by special US forces on Monday.

"We see a lot of bravado in our own region. There have been statements that have come from across (the border), by senior people from the military and air force, which state that this can be repeated.

"We feel that sort of misadventure or miscalculation would result in a terrible catastrophe," he said in his opening remarks.

He made the remarks in the wake of the statement by army chief Gen V K Singh that Indian forces had the capability to mount raids like the pre-dawn assault by US special forces that resulted in the killing of bin Laden.

Stressing on the military strength of Pakistan, Bashir said if any country would ever act on the assumption that it has a might to unilateralism of any sorts, as far as Pakistan is concerned, will find themselves indulging in misadventure.

"There should be no doubt that Pakistan has adequate capacity to ensure its own defence," he said.

Responding to a query on the remarks of Indian military officials about mounting a raid against leaders of Pak-based terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Bashir said such comments are "a matter of concern".

"I only see them as symptomatic of trends and tendencies within the Indian establishment and their armed forces to subvert the agenda of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. I don`t think the Indian leadership would really subscribe to this".

Bashir highlighted the need for a "serious constructive approach" and said Pakistan was engaged in a process of dialogue with India.

"We have had good meetings recently between the Home and Interior Secretaries of the two countries on counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics. We have done everything that we can and we are continuing to do in terms of cooperating to avert the possibilities of terror between our two countries", he said.

Bashir even questioned whether the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks could be described as "an intelligence failure or security failure on the part of India."

He also sought to equate the incident to the questions of "incompetence or complicity" being raised about Pakistani security forces in the context of the US raid that killed bin Laden.

Bashir mounted a strong defence of the ISI in the wake of questions raised by US officials about its failure to detect bin Laden even though he was living in a compound located less than a kilometre from the Pakistan Military Academy.

He also sought to dispel the impression that the US raid had taken bilateral relations to a fresh low.

While acknowledging that the unilateral and covert US operation had been successful in eliminating bin Laden, Bashir said it was "fortunate that a major tragedy that could have happened was averted" as the Pakistan Air Force had scrambled two F-16 jets after learning that some helicopters were present over Abbottabad.

Referring to comments by US officials like CIA chief Leon Panetta about the possible complicity of Pakistani security forces or intelligence agencies in sheltering bin Laden, he said such remarks had "continued to surface periodically" to pressure Pakistan to "do more" in the war on terror.

"It`s easy to say the ISI or elements within the government were in cahoots with al-Qaeda. This is a false hypothesis and a false charge. It cannot be validated on any account and it flies in the face of what Pakistan and the ISI has been able to accomplish," he contended.

Bashir claimed the ISI had been more successful than even the CIA in capturing or killing al-Qaeda and Taliban elements.

The ISI had shared information on the compound where bin Laden was found since 2009 and had also focussed on Abbottabad since 2004, he said.

Bashir also highlighted issues of international law and human rights that had been raised in some quarters in the wake of the unilateral US raid to kill bin Laden.

The operation had raised "moral and legal issues" in the domain of the UN and there is a need to bring the war on terrorism in line with "requirements of international law," he said.

He said Pakistan and the US should not be "distracted" by incidents like the American raid and instead focus on efforts aimed at ensuring peace, stability and reconciliation in Afghanistan ? an indication of Islamabad`s desire to play a key role in the endgame in the war-torn neighbouring country.