Operation against Osama bin Laden hints at mistrust between US and Pakistan



ESISC earlier quoted US military sources close to Sunday’s operation which led to the death of Osama bin Laden (OBL), which indicated that the Pakistani intelligence services were not abreast of the operation. A senior official within the Obama administration mentioned that the violation of the Pakistani sovereignty was justified by the “legal and moral obligations to act.

OBL was holed up in a compound – described as a custom built terrorist hideout – inside a medium city that is known for its military establishments and located closely to the Pakistani Military Academy (PMA), located in Kakul; the Pakistani equivalent of the US’ West Point or the UK’s Sandhurst. These facts raise significant questions about whether elements within the Pakistani intelligence services knew the whereabouts of OBL.

Lt. General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, head of Pakistan’s foremost intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), stated on Monday that it was a jointly conducted operation, involving both American and Pakistani troops. Pakistan has two other intelligence services; the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Military Intelligence (MI).

Pakistan’s regional enemies, India and Afghanistan, reacted sceptically to these claims of close collaboration. According to Indian officials, this operation once more proves that Pakistan is a safe haven for terrorists. Amrullah Saleh, the former intelligence director for Afghanistan and a fierce foe of Pakistan questioned whether the West will change its stance towards Pakistan from now on.

Information revealed by Wikileaks indicated that the ISI was listed among 36 other terrorist organisation, such as Al-Qaeda and Hamas, in secret US cables. A number of the detainee files also contain references - apparently based on intelligence reports - to the ISI supporting, coordinating and protecting insurgents and terrorists fighting coalition forces in Afghanistan, or even assisting al-Qaeda.

The alliance between the US and Pakistan was forged following the 9/11 attacks and since then, the US paid his regional ally an estimated $1 billion yearly to develop its counterterrorism operations; the main goal of these being the capture of OBL. However, the ties between both countries are at an all-time low following bickering over the shape of post-war Afghanistan and a recent wave of attacks in Pakistan, which hints to the resurgence of the Tehreek-e-Taleban-Pakistan (TTP) and the “Talebanisation” of Karachi. U.S. Admiral Michael Mullen Chairman, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently stepped up pressure on the Pakistani intelligence services, accusing the ISI of maintaining ties with terrorists of maintaining ties with the Al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network in Afghanistan, which operates in North Waziristan, allowing them to cross into Afghanistan and kill NATO forces.

These are among the main causes of the ambiguous relation between both countries, as Pakistan is officially an ally of the US’ War on Terror. The operation will deepen suspicions that Pakistan has been playing a double game, and perhaps some intelligence sources were aware of the exact location of OBL. However, it is too soon to indicate whether any Pakistani complicity – or incompetence - lies at the base of OBL’s presence in Abbottabad.

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