Confusion persists on Pakistan role in Osama killing (Second Lead)

May 3rd, 2011 - 7:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington/Islamabad, May 3 (IANS) Did Pakistan know about the US plan to kill Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad city? A day after the killing of the Al Qaeda chief, people were none the wiser - while the US Tuesday described it as a “shared achievement”, President Asif Ali Zardari said categorically that it was not a joint operation.

The dramatic end to the two-decade chase for the elusive terror mastermind was announced by US President Barack Obama, who indicated it was only a US operation and he spoke to Zardari only after the operation was over.

US officials had said that the Pakistan government was informed about the operation only after all the American security personnel had left the Abbottabad mansion where Osama was hiding.

However, on Tuesday, as speculation raged about the complex US-Pakistan relationship with many in Pakistan saying that they were embarrassed that Osama was hiding in Abbottabad, just over 100 km from the capital, US special representative to Afghanistan-Pakistan, Marc Grossman, said the killing was a shared achievement.

Addressing reporters after a trilateral meeting of senior officials from US, Pakistan and Afghanistan in Islamabad, Grossman said: “The three countries that are here share a commitment to end extremism. The three countries believe that it (Osama killing) was a shared achievement.”

Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, who was present on the occasion, said he would not go into whether Islamabad was involved in the Osama raid.

“I think there is no point as far as I can see getting into the forensics of this particular operation. And who did what. That is besides the point,” he said.

In an opinion column titled “Pakistan did its part”, published in the Washington Post, Zardari said: “Although the events of Sunday were not a joint operation, a decade of cooperation and partnership between the US and Pakistan led up to the elimination of Osama bin Laden as a continuing threat to the civilized world.”

Pakistan was scrambling to find out how its intelligence machinery failed miserably to track Osama, who was living comfortably in a sprawling mansion, just a stone’s throw from the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul.

Pakistan’s envoy to the US promised a full inquiry into the intelligence failure.

A manhunt was on to find the owner of the $1 million house where Osama was staying. Locals said it was known as the Waziristan haveli as the owner belonged to the place.

The Taliban stepped into the picture with a statement threatening revenge for Osama’s killing.

A spokesperson for the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban said in an audio message that “Pakistan will be the prime target… Now Pakistani rulers are on our hit-list.”

Fearing reprisal, the US embassy in Islamabad and American consulates in Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar were closed for public dealings.

Though Zardari clearly did not know, Pakistan’s leading daily Dawn hinted that the military brass may have been in the loop.

It said that in hindsight, a “flurry of activity that took place in the past week or so indicates that something was up”.

The daily referred to “an extraordinary visit” to Islamabad by Afghanistan’s Western troops commander David Petraeus April 25 when he reportedly held “a short and crisp” meeting with Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani “at an unusual meeting venue — Chaklala airbase”.

The daily said there was no logical explanation how four US helicopters evaded Pakistan’s air defence system for about an hour as they flew from Bagram and returned after a 40-minute long foray.

Pakistan’s ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani promised a “full inquiry” to find out why Pakistani intelligence services were not able to track Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Haqqani told CNN: “We will do a full inquiry into finding out why our intelligence services were not able to track him (Osama) earlier.”

He said Islamabad didn’t have knowledge of Osama’s whereabouts at any point over the last several years.

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