Pakistan has some explaining to do
It’s going to be interesting to see how Pakistan attempts to weasel its way out of the obvious “someone there was helping bin Laden” meme.
A senior official in Pakistan’s civilian government told ABC News, "Elements of Pakistan intelligence — probably rogue or retired — were involved in aiding, abetting and sheltering the leader of al Qaeda," the strongest public statement yet from the Pakistani government after the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound.
This is based on the government’s judgment that the number of years bin Laden spent in Abbottabad — and it now appears in a village outside the city of Haripur — would have been impossible without help, possibly from someone in the middle tier of ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence agency, who grew up fighting alongside the mujahidin against the Soviets, said the official.
Ummm. Yeah, it has to go a little deeper than that, unless someone is going to claim that the ISI – not rogue or retired – was totally asleep at the switch. Some others (other than just a “rogue element”) that are still on active duty and at pretty high levels had to be complicit. Waiving it off as “rogue elements” just isn’t going to be good enough.
For bin Laden to stay, safely for up to 7 years within Pakistan and apparently able to moving from one village to another, a whole bunch of people had to turn blind eyes. Especially with the ISI’s reputation of knowing all that goes on within its borders.
It’s the impression of some in the government that the United States is giving Pakistan some space in the wake of the raid, but only for a limited time — and that if Pakistan doesn’t act in a way that satisfies the United States, there will be consequences.
One of the consequences could be a cut off or sharp reduction in the billions of aid we give them each year for their military and for the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban. At the moment, given this bin Laden story, it doesn’t appear to have been well spent.
That said, Pakistan is very important to us in other ways than just fighting terrorists. It is the main staging base for the bulk of our logistical support for the effort in Afghanistan.
Tricky diplomacy ahead. Pakistan has been embarrassed by the US raid (rightfully so). Also, although it has never been said openly, they’re seen as so unreliable an ally that we chose not to tell them we were going to do what we did for fear bin Laden would escape.
The US is going to have to move carefully here, but bottom line, Pakistan – at a minimum – is going to have to cough up those who were responsible for making it possible for bin Laden to stay in Pakistan for all those years and punish them.