Pakistan’s prime minister said the US “martyred” al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden – a term normally reserved for honourable figures slain in battle.
Imran Khan used the term during a budget speech in parliament, attacking his predecessors’ foreign policies and saying that Pakistan’s partnership with the United States in the war on terror was a mistake.
Mr Khan also said Washington used abusive language against Pakistan, blamed Islamabad for its failures in neighbouring Afghanistan and refused to inform the country of its operation against bin Laden in 2011 before carrying out the Navy SEALs nighttime raid.
The special operations force swooped into Pakistan’s military garrison town of Abbottabad in the middle of the night on May 2 2011, killing bin Laden and several of his operatives.
Mr Khan told parliament: “We sided with the US in the War on Terror but they came here and killed him, martyred him and … used abusive language against us (and) did not inform us (of the raid), despite the fact that we lost 70,000 people in war on terror.
Washington has repeatedly accused Pakistan of harbouring the Afghan Taliban and giving safe haven to the feared Haqqani network, a Taliban affiliate that has been blamed for some major attacks in Afghanistan over the years and declared a terrorist group by the United States.
Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had claimed that the Haqqani network was run by Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency, known by its acronym ISI.
Pakistan denied the accusations, saying Washington was blaming Pakistan for the failure of the US-led coalition’s 150,000 soldiers to defeat the Taliban, who are now at their strongest since being toppled in 2001 and rule or hold sway in about 50% of Afghanistan.
Mr Khan said: “The way we supported America in the war on terror, and the insults we had to face in return … They blamed us for every failure in Afghanistan. They openly held us responsible because they did not succeed in Afghanistan.”
Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were the only countries to recognise the Taliban government, which had harboured bin Laden as he planned terrorist attacks against the US.
After the September 11 attacks, Pakistan turned and became an ally of the United States against the Taliban, who were ousted by a US-led coalition in November 2011.
However, opposition politician Khwaja Mohammed Asif was critical of Mr Khan for calling bin Laden a martyr, saying the al Qaida chief had brought terrorism to Pakistan.
“He (bin Laden) ruined my country but he (Khan) is calling him a martyr,” he said.
Since taking power, Mr Khan claimed his government has reset the Pakistan-US relationship, elevating it to one of mutual respect, for which he also credited the personal rapport he has built with US president Donald Trump.
“No one insults us now,” said Mr Khan.