WASHINGTON: No evidence has been found which directly links the Pakistani authorities and Osama bin Laden’s ability to live and operate within a stone’s throw of one of Pakistan’s most important military installations, US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta said in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
In the interview, the US secretary of defence said that most of the material extracted from the Abbottabad compound – where a unilateral raid was conducted on May 2, 2011 by US Special Forces, killing the al Qaeda leader – had been reviewed and “no direct links” between the Pakistani establishment and Bin Laden were found, the report said.
However, he added: “Well, you know, in these situations sometimes, the leadership within Pakistan is obviously not aware of certain things and yet people lower down in the military establishment know it very well.
They’ve been aware of it. But the bottom line is that we have not had evidence that provides that direct link.”
Panetta said: “Obviously the concern has always been how a compound like this could operate, how Bin Laden could be in an area where there were military installations, where we could see the military operating.
“But I have not heard any kind of evidence that involved a direct connection to the Pakistanis.”
Talking about Pakistan’s troubled relationship with the US, Panetta said in the interview that relations between the two allies were “complex”.
“It’s a complex relationship. It always has been and I suspect it always will be.
“In some ways we share a common concern and a common threat. Terrorism is as much a threat to Pakistan and the people of Pakistan as it is to us and to the people of Afghanistan. And the fact is that they lost an awful lot of lives because of terrorism.”
Appreciating Pakistan’s efforts in the war against terrorism, the US secretary of defence added: “They continue to conduct military operations against the terrorists. So in many ways we have common cause.
“We’ve had ups and downs, but my view is it’s an absolutely essential relationship if we’re going to be able to go after the enemy that we’re concerned about,” he said, adding “you can’t really have peace in Afghanistan until you have peace in Pakistan.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 3rd, 2012.