Bin Laden aftermath: Obama’s Pakistan trip under cloud

Published: May 8, 2011
Obama smiles as he arrives to speak to troops at Fort Campbell in Kentucky May 6, 2011. PHOTO: REUTERS

Obama smiles as he arrives to speak to troops at Fort Campbell in Kentucky May 6, 2011. PHOTO: REUTERS


US President Barack Obama’s promised trip to Pakistan this year, once seen as a reward for a key ally in the fight against terrorism, is now a looming headache for the White House as it tries to determine whether the government in Islamabad was complicit in allowing Osama bin Laden to live for years within the country’s borders.

Obama told Pakistani officials in the fall that he planned to travel there in 2011, in part to soothe concerns that the president was favouring Pakistan’s archrival India by visiting there first.

White House spokesmen refused to say whether Obama still planned to go.

In the hours after Bin Laden’s killing by a US special forces team in Pakistan, John Brennan, Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, left the topic open.

”I’m not going to address the president’s schedule,” he said. ”I think there’s a commitment that the president has made that he is intending to visit Pakistan. A lot depends on availability, scheduling.”

The decision is of enormous strategic and symbolic importance to both countries. A presidential trip would signal a continued US commitment to its complicated, yet necessary, relationship with Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • Cheeko Beeko
    May 8, 2011 - 11:39AM

    The peaceful citizens of Pakistan consider that US Presdient Barack Obama is a hero who has not only done justice with 3000 victims of World Trade Centre and Pentagon but has also saved Pakistan by eliminating the # 1 most wanted terrorist of Al-Qaeda Osama Bin Laden.

    Terminating Osama by US Navy SEALs is a good omen for the peace and security of the entire world.

    Obama should visit Pakistan in the first instance and ask Pakistani leadership as why they have been hiding Osama in Pakistan for seven long years.

    Death of Osama has given a positive signal to the majority of peaceful citizens of Pakistan. I hope that after Osama has been eliminated, the anti-American sentiments in Pakistan among the Pakistanis will go with the passage of time. The need of the hour is the US President Obama should see that people to people contact between the two countries must grow to bring together people of two nations. Recommend

  • Jack
    May 8, 2011 - 1:51PM

    Crazy Recommend

  • Umar Khan
    May 9, 2011 - 3:50PM

    The peaceful citizens of Pakistan do not want USA to interfere with the sovereighnity of Pakistan and launch Drone and other Combat attacks in Pakistan without informing the government, and without permission of the government. The peaceful people of Pakistan want USA to stop killing of innocent civiliants of Pakistan. They would like USA to follow law and order for once, stop capturing and killing people outside the court of law, and calling them terrorists without any evidence.Recommend

  • Nadeem Akhter
    May 9, 2011 - 7:22PM

    The trip instead of being clouded by the event should be more clear and imminent. the President should visit Pakistan not only to take its people in confidence but also to show to the world that we are strategic-allies or “Partners” as often said by US Officials.The Trip would clarify the point of view of the United States, would provide a forum for future strategy, which is the need of the day and would provide some air to the halt in the relationship.Recommend

  • Munir Saami
    May 10, 2011 - 12:49AM

    This may shock many:
    “The US and Pakistan struck a secret deal almost a decade ago permitting a US operation against Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil similar to last week’s raid that killed the al-Qaida leader, the Guardian has learned.

    The deal was struck between the military leader General Pervez Musharraf and President George Bush after Bin Laden escaped US forces in the mountains of Tora Bora in late 2001, according to serving and retired Pakistani and US officials.

    Under its terms, Pakistan would allow US forces to conduct a unilateral raid inside Pakistan in search of Bin Laden, his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the al-Qaida No3. Afterwards, both sides agreed, Pakistan would vociferously protest the incursion.

    “There was an agreement between Bush and Musharraf that if we knew where Osama was, we were going to come and get him,” said a former senior US official with knowledge of counterterrorism operations. “The Pakistanis would put up a hue and cry, but they wouldn’t stop us.””

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