US aircraft may have distracted PAF

Published: May 9, 2011
Pakistani media personnel film the building which was used as the hideout by Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. PHOTO:AFP

Pakistani media personnel film the building which was used as the hideout by Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. PHOTO:AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has setup a special committee to probe the violation of the country’s air space by US helicopters which conducted the operation against Osama bin Laden between the night of May 1 and May 2, BBC reported on Sunday.

Initial investigation by the committee reveals that air radars at Peshawar and Risalpur, which are meant to monitor the country’s western border, were working as per usual at the time of the US operation and even detected some movement at around 11 pm on May 1 near Jalalabad airport in Afghanistan. PAF officers are now contemplating whether or not US military strategists had arranged the movement of about half a dozen aircraft from Jalalabad to distract the Pakistani authorities. One of these was an American aircraft fitted with Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) while the rest of them were recognised as American F-8 fighter aircraft.

These aircraft continued flying near the Pakistani border for quite some time, diverting the attention of the Pakistani authorities towards them. However, none of these aircraft violated Pakistan’s airspace. The investigation committee is now trying to find out why Pakistani radars failed to detect the helicopters that carried out the operation against Osama despite the fact the authorities were on high alert because of these aircraft.

Officials said that the committee has started interviewing all the officials who were on duty that night and has started scrutinising the record. Various defence and intelligence organisations are expected to set up such more inquiry committees in the future which will try to unearth the facts surrounding the incident which has caused embarrassment to Pakistan on the international level.

Meanwhile according to Sana News agency, an initial report on the US operation has been presented to President Zardari. According to officials, the report states that experts of the intelligence and investigating agencies visited Osama bin Laden’s compound after the US operation while forensic experts collected evidence comprising samples of a human brain and blood. The evidence suggests that Bin Laden probably died on the spot.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (47)

  • Mahmood
    May 9, 2011 - 8:26AM

    Maybe they should have a special committe to probe why OBL was hiding in a mansion in the shadow of a military academy – or why the Taliban are allowed safe havens to attack Afghanistan?Recommend

  • May 9, 2011 - 8:31AM

    If the US was flying American F-8 fighter aircraft, as asserted above, that in itself would be big news. Recommend

  • Fatah
    May 9, 2011 - 9:00AM

    The Americans claim that US Navy SEAL raid in Pakistan was 40 mins on the ground with the US Blackhawk helicopters coming from Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

    It is more than 130 miles from the Afghan border to Abbottābad.

    The Blackhawk helicopter has a max speed of 190 knots and cruising speed of 140 knots or 160 mph.

    That means that US military helicopters penetrated Pakistani airspace for at least 50 mins on the way to Abbottābad, then hovered over Abbottābad for another 40 mins and then flew back through Pakistani airspace for another 50 mins.

    That is more than 140 minutes in Pakistani airspace (nearly 2 1/2 hours) and the Pakistani Air Force still could not DETECT the UNIDENTIFIED hostile aircraft, let alone shoot down the intruders. What if that had been an Indian fighter jet with a nuclear bomb?

    The entire Pakistani military command must resign due to sheer incompetence.

    Zardari, Gilani and the entire “civilian” government must resign, as well, for being such compliant servants of America.

    Close the US Embassy and cut all diplomatic ties with USA. Recommend

  • Jami
    May 9, 2011 - 9:41AM


  • Usman
    May 9, 2011 - 9:43AM

    When these guys will present report to the nation?Recommend

  • May 9, 2011 - 10:00AM

    Pakistan establishment trying to save their faces and trying to save US as well. Stay tune for further story changes on both sides till both are happy with each other.

    Next time please borrow a screenplay writer to write the script. Yeesh.Recommend

  • GodBlessUSA
    May 9, 2011 - 10:09AM

    “Close the US Embassy and cut all diplomatic ties with USA.”
    Then who will feed you?@Fatah: Recommend

  • Mirza
    May 9, 2011 - 10:22AM

    I am really sorry to hear that “Pakistani defense forces cannot walk and chew gum at the same time”. In the era of multi-tasking it is really hard for them to do even one thing at a time. Recommend

  • Farhan
    May 9, 2011 - 10:27AM

    Incompetence at its height!!!!
    top brass of military should resign if they feel little shame about all this.Recommend

  • May 9, 2011 - 10:32AM

    Any child with access to Google Maps could route US Blackhawks to Abbottabad undetected – on the same route Chinese Blackhawks would take.Recommend

  • Fahd hassan
    May 9, 2011 - 10:47AM

    If i am to believe this was no complicity, the US planes and AWACS were an escort in actuality though that is not how typical escorts are done but this one close enough to respond to the PAF reaction (as if this was Iranian or Iraqi Air Force). Second, was this a distraction besides being an escort If i am to believe the PAF story. I know the PAF; if something is impossible it is to distract the PAF. The PAF radars cover land transport for God’s sake let alone air. Those helicopters remained in Pakistan long enough to be engaged and shot down but would they after flying from an air base inside of Pakistan in KPK? NO. Such nonsense may be swiftly accepted on the charged streets of New York but Pakistanis ask questions and rightly so. My suggestion to the military and the government; stop fooling the public; it hurts.Recommend

  • Manoj
    May 9, 2011 - 10:48AM


    do not worry about Indian army or air force. They are as competent as their Pakistani counterpart.

    Recently, in Arunachal Pradesh on china border, Chief minister helicopter crashed. Indian Air force could not locate it in five days.

    So, if PAF was sleeping for 2.5 hours, it is still better than IAF.

    Both the forcess Indian and Pakistani are most phathetic force of the world. They are blood sucker of common man.

    These forces are manned by truly brainless people, who do not get job any where, they join army,except few exception. Hence, nothing better can be expected from them.

    India and Pakistan should immediatly agree to convert LOC as international border and dissolve their respective army to utilise their scarce resources for public good.Recommend

  • Billoo Bhaya
    May 9, 2011 - 10:57AM

    @Anthony Mitchell:
    You are right. F-8s came into service in 1955 and were phased out in 1999. Why would an F-8 signal come from Jalalabad, unless the Americans had used an F-8 transponder on a newer aircraft?? Would you agree???Recommend

  • Billoo Bhaya
    May 9, 2011 - 11:04AM

    There will be 2 reports. One for the Americans which will be full of facts. The second one will be for our political and military elite who will be absolved of all incompetence, lies and gross negligence. No heads will be responsible and non will roll. The Colonels in the army know what has happened. Why can’t they mount a coup and arrest all of them to be indicted and sentenced by a military court martial??? Its time To Bury Caesar not to Praise Him. Recommend

  • Billoo Bhaya
    May 9, 2011 - 11:05AM

    Right on Man.Recommend

  • Shafique
    May 9, 2011 - 11:11AM

    the stupid argument i come accross every now n then … US feeds pakistan……

    we spent 68 billion in american war on islam n got 17 in return from them…..

    n that 17 also includes… lease for shamsi, pasni, jacobabad, tarbela n God knows which other leased bases on pak soil, 17 includes rental for supply routes from torkham n chaman, 17 includes cost for 17 acre embassy extension in posh area of islamabad…. few kilometers from GHQ n KRL……. n so much more not revealed yet….

    pak has wat… 65 billion debt which the defeatist keep crying for to sell their loyalties… well only sandak has 250 billion gold reserve…. let alone uranium, coal, gas, fruits, wheat, rice, cotton, sports goods n bla bla…

    the point is our rulers n military leadership is enslaved… solution: change in military leadership by the genuine middle rank officers and consequently uprooting the agent politicians who are affiliated with the myth of democracy…. the khans, n sharifs n the ghadariesRecommend

  • Watty
    May 9, 2011 - 12:15PM

    It’s too late to try this spin. The world and most importantly the Pakistani people themselves are fed up with all the lies. Just stop supporting all terrorist groups and behave like ordinary human beings. Is that too much to ask?Recommend

  • Farrukh
    May 9, 2011 - 12:24PM

    The Main Issue is attack by foriegn forces. If US wanted OBL/UBL then they should have filed a extradition request.

    All Mir Jaffars complicit in thsi affair should be brought to the hangman.Recommend

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    May 9, 2011 - 12:48PM

    News is there that the helicopters used in this mission were “Stealth Helicopters” which can not be detected by radars as per technology. It is pertinent to note that what ever equipment is supplied are not laced with those electronic system which is provided to those countries who can turn turtle any time. Now the whole focus must only be on intelligence which we get from all SHOs and specials branch of the Police who were posted in these areas from last couple of years. We must not only drub ISI because there are also other agencies who must be asked “What were you people doing during this period of time” in your areas?????Recommend

  • Aman
    May 9, 2011 - 1:15PM

    F-8’s were decommissioned in 1999… May be they meant FA-18 Hornets?Recommend

  • junaid ahmed khan
    May 9, 2011 - 1:19PM

    i think they were F-18 as reported on geo websiteRecommend

  • Aman
    May 9, 2011 - 1:24PM

    Is this why we spend around 45% of our GDP on Armed Forces?…. Is this why our 500+ fighter aircrafts are stationed around a dozen bases around Pakistan?…. Recommend

  • Javed
    May 9, 2011 - 1:45PM

    Wake up to the real worldRecommend

  • IndependentPakistan
    May 9, 2011 - 1:46PM

    We don’t Need USA USA need us.Recommend

  • Javed
    May 9, 2011 - 2:11PM

    The last F8 (Reconnaissance Version) were flown by the US Navy in 1987 while the fighter versions were discarded after the Vietnam War. It’s amazing that PAF can pick up Radar signals from the past but not the present. If on the other hand they meant F18s then we need to ask where they came from. F18s are only flown by the US Navy not by the Air Force. They had to come from Arabian Sea and must have flown over Pakistan or Iran to reach Afghanistan. As the PAF has accepted that they were tracking the aircraft then they would know this. PAF it appears is as incompetent in spinning a story as it is in defending the borders.

    There is a western saying, “If you find yourself in a hole stop digging”Recommend

  • ahs
    May 9, 2011 - 2:11PM

    troika should resign. full stopRecommend

  • May 9, 2011 - 2:59PM

    US aircraft as diversion? Unless the aircraft appeared on radars in feminine form doing a hot dance number .. then of course. Recommend

  • Saad
    May 9, 2011 - 3:09PM

    I really dont support US action OR what they did. But lets face the fact, We knew about the raid as soon as the heli’s came in BUT we couldnt do anything BECAUSE if we would have eve TRIED to shoot one down, thats whould have meant DECLARING to the US we are NOT with you OR we are AGAINST you. Pakistan’s military and civilian bras is in NO WAY to be in a war with US and can NEVER be. Lets face it!

    What we can do in future is to stop taking aid from them so that atleast we can retaliate in some way.Recommend

  • May 9, 2011 - 4:14PM

    @Mahmood: They are. Get your news sources straight. #AmericanTalibanRecommend

  • tahir
    May 9, 2011 - 6:13PM

    What if it was a backup to neutralise any threat from pakistani fighter jets?Recommend

  • FactCheck
    May 9, 2011 - 6:13PM


    If they are brainless, you, Manoj should join and use your brain. Have you ever serched for an Helicopter that went down bad weather? No. It took US over thirty days to find an Helicopter that went down in Colorado Rockies in 2010 in a snow storm.

    It appears you are the brainless one, Indian military forces would not let you in with kind of brain mass you have.Recommend

  • FactCheck
    May 9, 2011 - 6:19PM

    @Aftab Kenneth Wilson:

    Since the raid took place where 5 regiments were based, all of them must be deaf. Do you know how much noise helicopters make that close to the ground? Sound must be stealth, one hell of a technology defying Laws of Physics.

    May be the barracks are sound proof and the soldiers couldn’t hear. According to news reports, residents Abbottabad was waken by the noise, but not the soldiers.Recommend

  • Pill
    May 9, 2011 - 6:28PM

    The real distraction is ZAB case for the government & plot assignments for the generals.Recommend

  • Jerry
    May 9, 2011 - 7:59PM

    International community is failed to understand classic Pakistani Denial. Rather giving world a satisfactory clarification of OBL fiasco and why he was living under the nose of Army ,Pakistan is obsessed of sovereignty issue??

    I mean what sovereignty you are talking about ?? and what is wrong with taking out OBL?
    let us understand that pakistan has trust issue ,no one in this world now trust pakistan ,
    OBL is one thing and Nuclear proliferation is another .

    Get out of this security state mindset Recommend

  • MA
    May 9, 2011 - 9:33PM

    @PostMan: GOODRecommend

  • Syed
    May 9, 2011 - 9:45PM

    Same one who is feeding you now a days – China !!Recommend

  • khan
    May 9, 2011 - 10:14PM

    @Anthony Mitchell:
    its f-18, not f-8 a common mistake in our media…anyway its most likely that there was behind the door deal between obama and zardari to ensure obama gets some votes and that pakistan may not face enough heat from alqeda terrorist in form of indiscriminate bombing Recommend

  • khan
    May 9, 2011 - 10:18PM

    i think we all should know it was behind the doors understanding for obama to secure more votes……

    regarding osama hideout, he moved during 2005 earth quake taking advantage of MASSIVE MOVEOUTS, terrroism wasnt at peak at that time too, so it isnt difficult to move here. it would have been impossible to find him unless he become activated,which he did. the capture of indonesian no.1 wanted person by ISI in January played a major rule.Recommend

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    May 9, 2011 - 10:59PM

    @FactCheck: I was pointing towards detection in the radars and not noise. Helicopters and other fighter planes fly on regular basis in that part of the area. The helicopter which was blown by the seals created all time panic. Anyhow someone from somewhere did provide credible help which is now under investigation. One can find rogue soldiers in-service or retired
    in any army.Recommend

  • Eric Kumar
    May 9, 2011 - 11:35PM

    Had there been any attack had happen on these helicopters i sure you US would have attacked the nucleor storeage facilties without any doubt and get the hell out of Pakistan.US is already trying to find some excuse and do you think they didn’t have contigency plans. The US airforce has so much leathal power to knock out any Indian and Pakitani instaltion if they want to. Espcially the F16 or what ever airoplanes they have supplied to Pakistan they would have jammed out all the elctronics of these planes and make them dud without any hesitation
    So brothers don’t kid yourself think about doing something good for common Junta who care Osama is dead or alive. Alive or dead what differnce it make to common man he is going to provide thier daily bread and Dal. Our politician need people like unselfish leadors like Jinnha or Gandhi .Over 60 years have passed our nation is gone bad to worst and I don’t see any hope on the horizan.Recommend

  • G. Din
    May 10, 2011 - 12:50AM

    What if he is not what being “Manoj” connotes to be. The way he suggests that we dissolve the two armies, he can only be a Pakistani, for no Indian will ever suggest that.
    “It appears you are the brainless one, Indian military forces would not let you in with kind of brain mass you have.”
    I think it is a fair statement!Recommend

  • G. Din
    May 10, 2011 - 1:00AM

    Rehman Malik says he knew about the raid 15 minutes into the time it started. It was because he was not sure where the helicopters were headed, he went back to sleep!Recommend

  • Hasan
    May 10, 2011 - 1:21AM

    US aircraft may have distracted PAF

    PAF gets distracted easilyRecommend

  • RK
    May 10, 2011 - 3:48AM

    Very well saidRecommend

  • Mirza
    May 10, 2011 - 7:40AM

    @Billoo Bhaya:
    I have asked this same question about a counter coup in Pakistan when Zia overthrew ZAB’s elected govt. I was young and more emotional like a typical Pakistani.

    A wise man told me that there would and cannot be a military coup in Pakistan, because army rules as an institution and not an individual. Each member of the army gets the benefits according to their position. Why would they revolt against themselves and stop the gravey train?

    I am sorry to say that this has been true uptill now. Keep up the good work!


    Mirza, USARecommend

  • rabnawaz
    May 10, 2011 - 1:42PM

    i m great fan of paf but after this operation i was shocked.sory paf u people have discoraged
    170 mtilion people.i stil love paf but for god sak [plz dont gave any more chance to uaf.
    sory paf i realy felling sham; Recommend

  • anil
    May 10, 2011 - 11:16PM

    May be radars are supplied by US……………..Recommend

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