U.S.-Pakistan relations are in chaos this week following the
revelation on Sunday night that Osama
bin Laden had been residing in Abbottabad, Pakistan, which has an extensive
Pakistani military presence. Everyone
wants to know how the Pakistani government could have totally unaware of bin
Laden's presence, as they claim to have been.
In an exclusive interview with The Cable, Pakistani Ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani said that his government will conduct a series of
internal investigations to find out how bin Laden could have been living deep less
than 100 miles from the capital, Islamabad, and to determine if any Pakistani
government personnel were helping him. He also said that the investigations
will be conducted solely by Pakistan, without direct U.S. involvement.
"Pakistan will conduct a full inquiry into what his support
network was, whether the support network was a private network, or whether it
involved individuals working at any level in our police or security services or
anywhere," Haqqani said. "We totally reject there was complicity as a policy
decision. The only other two explanations are incompetence and overconfidence
of our security services."
The Americans won't be part of that investigation, but
Pakistan will share what it considers to be important information with the United
States, and expects the same treatment from the Obama administration in return.
"If there is anything important for both sides to know, it
definitely will be shared with the American side. And we look forward to
receiving any information from the Americans that may be relevant to our
understanding to what happened and how Osama bin Laden ended up where he was
found," Haqqani said.
President Asif Ali Zardari will decide who will lead
the overall investigation, and there will be other internal investigations in
the military and the local police as well, Haqqani said. He confirmed that
Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman formally requested in
his Tuesday meeting with Zardari that Pakistan make several gestures of
cooperation in the wake of the operation, including that Pakistan hand over the
contents of the bin Laden compound and make available the bin Laden family
members who were left alive there.
The Pakistani government was still considering the request,
statement from Pakistan's Foreign Ministry noted that the family members "will
be handed over to their countries of origin," casting doubt on whether it would
comply with the U.S. request.
The Foreign Ministry statement also heavily criticized the United
States for violating Pakistani sovereignty, stating that the bin Laden
operation "shall not serve as a future precedent for any state, including the
US. Such actions undermine cooperation and may also sometime constitute threat
to international peace and security."
Haqqani didn't directly contradict that statement, but
emphasized that "Pakistan's government is as satisfied as the American
government and the rest of the world over the fact that Osama bin Laden has
been put out of business and he will no longer be able to plot terrorist
attacks in Pakistan or anywhere else in the world."
Various Pakistani officials'
conflicting statements about what they knew, and when, are complicating
Pakistan's diplomatic response to the bin Laden embarrassment. Wajid Hasan, Pakistan's high commissioner
in London, said
Pakistan knew where bin Laden was, but the Americans just acted quicker.
"I do not know on what basis Hasan said
what he said. This is all Monday morning quarterbacking anyway," Haqqani
One of the lingering questions is
how the American helicopters could travel so far into Pakistan without being detected
by Pakistani air defenses. Some have suggested this is an indication that the Pakistani
military was cooperating with the operation.
Haqqani disagreed, however, saying that
Pakistan simply doesn't have strong air defenses on its western border. Its air
defenses are directed at India, he said, not Afghanistan. "Pakistani defenses
are configured in light of the threat perception that does not look at the
possibility of air penetration from the Afghan side," he said.
The Foreign Ministry statement
echoes this point, saying, "US helicopters entered Pakistani airspace making
use of blind spots in the radar coverage due to hilly terrain. US helicopters'
undetected flight into Pakistan was also facilitated by the mountainous
terrain, efficacious use of latest technology and ‘map of the earth' flying
Haqqani said that he was boarding a plane to London when he
received a text message stating that bin Laden was dead, and didn't learn the
details of the operation until several hours later when the plane landed. By
that point, news of the operation had spread around the world. President Barack Obama soon after informed Zardari,
CIA Director Leon Panetta called Inter-Services
Intelligence (ISI) chief Ahmad Shuja Pasha, and Joint Chiefs Chairman
Adm. Mike Mullen called Army Chief
of Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
The Cable pressed
several reports of how the Pakistani military may have either been involved
or reacted to the operation Sunday night. Haqqani suggested reports that
Pakistani jets were scrambled in response to the firefight at bin Laden's
compound might not be true, and said he didn't believe reports that Pakistani
military personnel asked nearby residents to turn off their lights before the
attack. He also said that he had no idea
if anyone from the ISI was working with the CIA on the mission.
"It's the media's job to speculate," he said. "But if I were
you, I wouldn't believe everything you read."
Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images