Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pakistan politicians mourn bin Laden

A group of Pakistani politicians including a former minister hijacked proceedings in parliament to offer prayers for the death of Osama bin Laden, little more than a week after he was killed in a US Navy Seal raid.

Their actions will heighten suspicions that parts of the Islamabad government or the powerful military establishment sympathized with the al-Qaeda leader, and may have sheltered him from justice.

"Bin Laden was an international figure and above all a Muslim ... I took it as my religious duty to offer prayers for him," said Maulvi Asmatullah, an independent Member of the National Assembly who led the prayers on Tuesday.

The deputy speaker of the house tried to silence the prayers, warning the MNAs that they did not have permission Mr Asmatullah was joined by two members of the Jamaat Ulema-e-Islam party, the country's biggest Islamic party which was part of the governing coalition until late 2010.

Atta-ur-Rehman, a federal minister until his party withdrew from government, was among them.

Their controversial actions underscore Pakistan's complex relationship with Islamist militants.