Pakistan’s India focus behind failure to find Osama: envoy

May 5th, 2011 - 12:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Benazir Bhutto Washington, May 5 (IANS) Pakistani Ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani has suggested that it was neither complicity nor incompetence but Islamabad’s focus on India that they failed to detect Osama bin Laden hiding in plain sight in Pakistan.

“Let me just say that there are only three options here,” Husain Haqqani said on the Charlie Rose Show Wednesday. “One is complicity, which I would like to object because it is not in Pakistan’s interest to protect Osama bin Laden.”

The Al Qaeda leader, he noted, had “ordered terrorists attacks in Pakistan, one of the attacks, killing Benazir Bhutto, the wife of President Asif Zardari, killing several Pakistani military officers, actually blowing up (Pakistani spy agency) ISI offices in some towns”.

“The second as you read is overconfidence, quite possible, something we need to look at in Pakistan. And the third is incompetence,” Haqqani said. CIA chief Leon Panetta had US lawmakers Wednesday that Pakistan was either “involved or incompetent”.

“The only other explanation is the focus of Pakistan’s national security strategy which has always been the perceived threat from our eastern neighbour,” he said without referring to India by name.

“So possible people within our security establishment just did not take trying to locate Osama bin Laden as seriously as they should have,” Haqqani admitted.

“What you have to understand is that every nation has its own preoccupations, and we have a military and intelligence service that has always been concern about the threat from the east,” he said again without referring to India by name.

“So they have a threat perception which is not always, which is not always the threat perception that you and I may have.”

Asked if the leadership of ISI might have been involved, Haqqani said Zardari “does and will intend to ask everyone” those questions.

“He will ask the ISI leadership to do a complete inquiry and find out what happened, who dropped the ball where. And was it just a dropping of the ball and not reading the right signs.”

“But there’s another aspect which is, do you know what, our image of threat comes from another direction. That’s what we should focus on,” he said.

Asked about the scrambling of the Pakistani planes during the US raid, Haqqani said they did so because Islamabad had not been notified and suspected an incursion from India.

“Absolutely. They should have been because they hadn’t notified earlier and there could have been some incident.

“But then we also have to look at the displacement of our air systems. After all, we have always assumed that any area intrusion into our sovereign territory will come from the east.”

Asked if he was referring to Afghanistan, Haqqani said: “No, from India.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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