Washington: Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf has demanded an investigation into the failure of intelligence agencies, after he was surprised to know that al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was living in an affluent suburb of Islamabad.

"I cannot imagine that ISI high command or Army were abetting or harboring Osama bin Laden there. That cannot be the case. However, it is a case of acute failure of intelligence, which I think needs to be investigated. And all responsible need to be brought to book," Musharraf said.

The former Pakistani President admitted that it was very shockingly embarrassing that Laden was found living such close to the Pakistani Military Academy.

"I've seen a lot of interview on the television and a lot of people who are around that house being asked whether they knew that Osama bin Laden was there. They don't know. So, if they didn't know who was living there? I don't believe that. But even if he was there for whatever duration, if the people around couldn't know, it is possible that ISI also did not know. However, I don't want to absolve them of the responsibility of they should have known," he said.

Musharraf also criticised the US, saying it violated Pakistan's sovereignty by carrying out covert operation against bin Laden without informing authorities in Islamabad.

"This is unfortunate. That is a lack of trust... If we are to fight terrorism and extremism together, if we have to defeat Taliban and al-Qaeda, we have to have trust in each other," Musharraf argued.


Did Osama get ISI protection?

US and European intelligence officials progressively believe active or retired Pakistani military or intelligence officials provided some kinds of help to Osama bin Laden to stay hidden in Pakistan, a report said.

Similar elements linked to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) have aided other Pakistan-based terror groups, the Haqqani militant network and Lashkar-e-Taiba, blamed for Mumbai terror attacks, a daily reported on Thursday citing senior US and European officials

The officials, who have direct working knowledge of Pakistan's spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, were cited as saying they believe these ISI elements include some current and former intelligence and military operatives with long-standing ties to Al Qaeda and other militant groups, the Journal said.

Abbottabad had come to the notice of Pakistani intelligence as a suspected hiding place for Al Qaeda leaders as long ago as 2003 and was the focus of searches for top Al Qaeda figures in years since, the report said.

In 2005, the man who was later identified as bin Laden's courier, acquired the property in Abbottabad on which the compound was built, US officials said on Wednesday. The name he used, Arshad Khan, is the local alias he employed. It was this courier who, nearly six years later, eventually led the US to the compound.

(Agencies)