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Kayani blasts government for Osama raid aftermath

Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani held a round of town-hall style meeting with officers during which he blamed "an insufficient formal response" for the public dismay and despondency following the killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.

world Updated: May 10, 2011 17:48 IST

Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani held a round of town-hall style meeting with officers during which he blamed "an insufficient formal response" for the public dismay and despondency following the killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.

The al qaeda leader was gunned down May 2 by crack US commandos who swooped into Abbottabad city in stealth helicopters and stormed his hideout of five years. Osama's mansion was located a short distance away from the Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul.

Dawn reported on Tuesday that General Kayani started reaching out to his officers on Monday to put to rest growing unease among the ranks as the US commando raid appears to have dented the military establishment's little questioned image at home.

The first round of town-hall style meetings were held in Rawalpindi, Kharian and Sialkot garrisons and the meetings focussed on the Abbottabad incident.

The army chief blamed poor media handling following Osama's killing for the public dejection.

"Incomplete information and lack of technical details have resulted in speculations and misreporting. Public dismay and despondency has also been aggravated due to an insufficient formal response," a statement quoted Gen Kayani as having said at Monday's meetings.

The meetings were not open to the media.

The media report said that the general's quote makes it clear that the army was not happy with the way the political administration had handled the matter in the media.

It noted that for about 36 hours after the May 2 incident, there was virtually a silence in government circles barring a press release issued by the Foreign Office.

Gen Kayani spoke of the military's efforts against militancy over the past years and he laid down his strategy to steer the military and intelligence establishment out of the controversy through involvement of the political leadership.

Last week, the top army officer had conceded an intelligence failure in not being able to detect Osama's presence in Abbottabad. He had then ordered an investigation.

"The strength of democracy must be put into effect to develop a consensus on important security issues, including the war on terror.

"Articulation of a national response through parliament, under the circumstances, is the most effective way to let the world know the historic achievements of Pakistan against al qaeda and its terror affiliates," General Kayani was quoted as saying.

During the three meetings, Gen Kayani is reported to have engaged with the officers to address questions that, a source said, "could have been agitating their minds".