ISLAMABAD - The Foreign Office Tuesday issued another statement categorically denying the media reports that the civil and military leadership had any prior knowledge of the US operation against Osama bin Laden.
The statement said the government recognises that the death of bin Laden is a milestone in the fight against terrorism and that the government and its machinery had been making serious efforts to bring him to justice since 2001.
While it hailed the killing of bin Laden as an important milestone, the statement said Pakistan has expressed deep concerns that the operation was carried out without prior information.
This event of unauthorised unilateral action cannot be taken as a rule, the ministry said.
Abbottabad and the surrounding areas had been under sharp focus of intelligence agencies since 2003, resulting in highly-technical operation by ISI that that led to the arrest of high-value Qaeda target in 2004, said the statement, adding that as far as the target compound is concerned, the ISI had been sharing information with the CIA and other friendly intelligence agencies since 2009 and intelligence flow, indicating some foreigners in the surroundings of Abbottabad, continued till the mid of April, 2011.
According to the statement, it is important to highlight that taking advantage of much superior technological assets, the CIA exploited the intelligence leads given by Pakistani agencies to identify and reach bin Laden, the fact that was also acknowledged by US President Obama and the secretary of state in their statements.
It is also important to mention that the CIA and some other friendly intelligence agencies have benefited a great deal from the intelligence provided by the ISI, maintained the statement, adding that ISIs own achievements against Qaeda and in war on terror are more than any other intelligence agency in the world.
Reports about US helicopters taking off from Ghazi Airbase are absolutely false and incorrect, averred the statement, adding that neither the US forces used any base or facility inside Pakistan, nor the Pakistan Army provided any operational or logistic assistance to these operations conducted by the US forces.
It added that US helicopters entered Pakistani airspace making use of blind spots in the radar coverage due to hilly terrain and that its helicopters undetected flight into Pakistan was also facilitated by the mountainous terrain, efficacious use of latest technology and nap of the earth flying techniques.
It may not be realistic to draw an analogy between this undefended civilian area and some military/security installations, which have elaborate local defence arrangements.
On receiving information of US military action, the PAF scrambled its jets within minutes, said the statement, adding that this has been corroborated by the White House Adviser John Brennan who while replying to a question said, We didnt contact the Pakistanis until all of our people, all of our aircraft were out of Pakistani airspace.
At the time, the Pakistanis were reacting to an incident that they knew was taking place in Abbottabad.
Therefore, they were scrambling some of their assets.
Clearly, we were concerned that if the Pakistanis decided to scramble jets or whatever else, they didnt know who were on those jets.
They had no idea about who might have been on there, whether it be US or somebody else, he said and added So, we were watching and making sure that our people and our aircraft were able to get out of Pakistani airspace.
And thankfully, there was no engagement with Pakistani forces.
This operation was designed to minimize the prospects, the chances of engagement with Pakistani forces.
It was done very well, and thankfully no Pakistani forces were engaged and there were no other individuals who were killed aside from those on the compound.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 04-May-2011 here.