LAHORE: Pakistan's elected leaders on Saturday came under mounting pressure to resign in the wake of a US commando operation that killed Osama bin Laden not far from the capital Islamabad.
Navy SEALs in three helicopters raided a three-storey house in the garrison city of Abbottabad last Sunday night, killing bin Laden and flying off with his body, which was later buried at sea.
As the covert operation piled embarrassment on Pakistan's civil and military leadership, the leader of the parliamentary opposition demanded that President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani resign.
"The operation tramples on our honour and dignity, and the president and prime minister must either give an explanation or resign," Chaudhry Nisar Ali told reporters.
"The government is keeping silent and there appears to be nobody to respond to propaganda against Pakistan," he added, saying that people in the country were feeling "insecure" after the covert US mission.
The fact that bin Laden was living in a garrison city less than a mile from a top military academy has fanned US suspicions that elements of Pakistan's intelligence services may have known his whereabouts and been protecting him.
"Those who are responsible must admit and quit," said Ali.
He also criticised the country's powerful intelligence agencies, saying that Pakistani institutions had "deviated from their real role".
Cricket hero turned budding opposition leader Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi, a ruling party lawmaker sacked as foreign minister earlier this year, have joined the chorus for Zardari and Gilani to resign.
The president, prime minister and army chief of staff, General Ashfaq Kayani, held talks Saturday to discuss "the present situation in its totality".
According to Pakistan's official account of events surrounding the raid, Kayani was briefed after the operation by chief US military officer Mike Mullen several hours before US President Barack Obama telephoned Zardari.
An official statement later said the prime minister would brief the nation in a speech at parliament on Monday. It did not give a time.
Gilani held "extensive consultations" on the situation arising from the Abbottabad operation resulting in the death of Osama Bin Laden, it said.
"The situation was comprehensively reviewed in the perspective of Pakistan’s national security and foreign policy," it said.
Gilani emphasized that "the sole criteria for formulating our stance is safeguarding of Pakistan’s supreme national interest, by all means, by all state institutions, in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Pakistan", it added. AGENCIES