Pakistan offers US conditional access to Osama’s family

Published: May 11, 2011
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Security officials say Washington should share data seized from al Qaeda chief’s compound in Abbottabad.  PHOTO:AFP/FILE

Security officials say Washington should share data seized from al Qaeda chief’s compound in Abbottabad. PHOTO:AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

Pakistan will allow US investigators access to the widows of Osama bin Laden only if Washington shares with it a huge stash of material seized from the al Qaeda leader’s hideout in Abbottabad.

US investigators, who are sifting through a trove of data recovered during the May 2 top-secret swoop by US Navy SEALs, want to question Bin Laden’s wives as they seek to trace his movements and his network. The White House says granting American investigators access to the women could help counter growing mistrust between them.

“The United States expects to be granted access soon,” a US official told AFP on Tuesday, but did not give details. Another American official told Reuters that Pakistan appeared ready to grant access to Bin Laden’s wives.

CNN quoted Interior Minister Rehman Malik as saying that the American request would be granted. But security officials in Islamabad deny such reports. “No decision has been taken yet at this stage,” said a security official, who requested not to be identified.

The US request will be accepted if they share with us the data seized by the US special forces from the Abbottabad compound.  “We will provide them (US) access if they meet our demand,” he added but was not hopeful if Washington would agree to this “quid pro quo”.

Another official was more candid. “If the CIA is not forthcoming to provide us with the information we are asking for then why should we accept their demand?” he added.

The Foreign Office, however, insisted that it had not received any US request seeking access to the widows of Bin Laden.

Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir told reporters in Islamabad that the US should make a formal request if it wanted to question Bin Laden’s wives. “The family is under treatment, they are under protective custody,” he said.

According to the Pakistani officials, the three wives – one Yemeni and two Saudi nationals – and their children will be repatriated to their respective countries after the completion of investigations. Foreign Office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua, however, said Yemen and Saudi Arabia had not asked that they be extradited.

Bin Laden’s Yemeni wife was shot in the leg by US commandos as she tried to protect her husband moments before he was killed in the covert operation.

She reportedly told the Pakistani investigators that before moving to the compound in Abbottabad they had lived in Chak Shah Muhammad, a small village in Haripur district, for two-and-a-half years.

Bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan for so long has raised suspicion among the US administration officials, with CIA chief Leon Panetta blaming Islamabad for being complacent or incompetent.

The New York Times reported that the US government wanted to know whether, and to what extent, the Pakistani government, intelligence or military officials were complicit in hiding Bin Laden.

And his widows could be critical to that line of inquiry because they might have information about the comings and goings of people who were aiding him.

In his policy statement, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Monday termed the allegations of complicity and incompetence as “absurd”.

The US State Department, meanwhile, struck a positive note, saying it was making “progress” in obtaining more information from Pakistan on Bin Laden.

“We continue to work with Pakistan to make sure we have access to any information that could contribute to our common goal, which is to continue our counterterrorism cooperation,” said State Department spokesman Mark Toner.

“We believe we’re making progress and we’re optimistic that we’ll be able to work through any obstacles and increase our information sharing.”

Toner declined to comment on Bin Laden’s wives. But he did indicate that “we’re making progress on not just this issue but on a range of issues in terms of information sharing”.

(With additional input from wires)

Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • Raj
    May 11, 2011 - 7:56AM

    Beggars can not be choosers.Recommend

  • Mr. Brooks
    May 11, 2011 - 8:01AM

    dial P for………….Recommend

  • Samia Mahmood
    May 11, 2011 - 8:32AM

    Finally we in Pakistan can be strong and admit to our failures and this offer is a dire desire
    to hide the embarrassment the nation is reacting and a sly attempt by our politicians not to end the financial donations from America.Recommend

  • Padma Laksami
    May 11, 2011 - 8:34AM

    Does not the winner keep all the winnings in this case America should not share the what they found in the Bin Laden mansion. Recommend

  • SKChadha
    May 11, 2011 - 8:36AM

    Pakistan offers US conditional access to Osama’s family.

    Only yesterday ET reported that Salman Bashir is reportedly stated:

    “Rejecting American media reports, Salman Bashir said if the US wants access to the wives of Bin Laden it should lodge a request through a proper channel” refer http://tribune.com.pk/story/165635/us-has-not-contacted-fo-for-access-to-bin-ladens-wives/

    There is some error in Salman Bashir’s utterances or reporting by ET. Please enlighten the readers.Recommend

  • sohaib
    May 11, 2011 - 8:46AM

    Yes there should be conditional access. no need to bow to this pressure tactics by Americans. Recommend

  • Mirza
    May 11, 2011 - 10:03AM

    It is a matter of put up and shut up. If we do not provide access to Osama’s wives then they know how to get the access. In addition, to please the angry US for protecting OBL for this long in a garrison, our brave army and ISI has to please America somehow. The next step should be to cleanse N. Waziristan from terrorists. What would Ghairat brigade do now?

    Well surrendering to US is far better than repeatedly surrendering to India. It is a reality and Pakistan does not have too many choices. Recommend

  • Mirza
    May 11, 2011 - 10:07AM

    How about all the news that OBL was not killed in this raid? All women were fake and not OBL’s wives?

    Talibans, Al-Qaida and OBL’s son and family has accepted his death in this raid except some Pakistanis. Now more truth would come out just like the Mush/Bush/Kayani’s agreement. Denials and closing the eyes to the facts cannot change the realities on the ground. Recommend

  • ashok sai
    May 11, 2011 - 10:15AM

    “you’re either with us, or against us” !!!Recommend

  • IK
    May 11, 2011 - 10:26AM

    This is too silly. The Americans can ask the Saudis and Yemenese to ask for extradition from Pakistan, and then take control. The saudis and Yemenese have excellent relationship with USA (afterall, USA has Airbases in both the countries).

    Another thing is, why will CIA share intelligence with ISI which it doesnt trust. Also, how will ISI know what information USA has got from the raid?
    I think this news item is Pakistan
    s public consumption to quench its anger and nothing else.Recommend

  • Ali
    May 11, 2011 - 10:58AM

    Conditional…LOLZ!!!!!!!!Recommend

  • Aurangzeb Rao
    May 11, 2011 - 11:54AM

    and the conditions are:

    Please do what ever you want to do. ThanksRecommend

  • May 11, 2011 - 12:04PM

    @Mirza:
    Recovery of Original passport of the Yemni widow of OBL and herself is sufficient proof that this is real.

    After the official Dua for the late OBL in National Assembly, this becomes an official matter as recongnized by Government of Pakistan.

    What agreement you are talking about? Musharaff has vehemently denied existence of such an agreement and challenged if any of such agreement exists, the Government of Pakistan should produce to the press / media.

    Mushraf is sincere and has the capability and ability to talk face to face with all the factual positions compared to present rulers including Nawaz Sharif which are hiding behind each other – Hypocrates.Recommend

  • ashok sai
    May 11, 2011 - 12:26PM

    @Mirza:

    Typical Pakistani mindset, Where does India comes into the equation ? Moreover it is not about surrendering, its about cleaning your soil from the terrorists who kills scores of innocent civilians in Pakistan and also threatens the rest of the world.Recommend

  • Amina
    May 11, 2011 - 2:42PM

    America has directly killed more innocent civilians in Pakistan than any other terrorist outfit planted by them.Recommend

  • Qasim
    May 11, 2011 - 2:45PM

    Is this an official position or a trial baloon? Recommend

  • Cautious
    May 11, 2011 - 3:25PM

    If the USA doesn’t trust you – do you think it logical that it will give you all the information? I suspect you will get a lot of the information but nothing that will allow you to interfere with the capture of other high level operatives.Recommend

  • Mirza
    May 12, 2011 - 12:13AM

    @ashok sai:
    Have you ever heard about humor, sarcasm or likes? ‘Calling typical Pakistani” was a low blow.

    Dr. Mirza, USA Recommend

  • Col(R)Usman
    May 12, 2011 - 1:15AM

    i cant imagine such a friendly working relationship with a country which illegally invaded our territory and frequently kills our people in waziristanRecommend

  • ashok sai
    May 12, 2011 - 11:54AM

    @Mirza:

    No offense meant sir, warm regards.Recommend

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