If senior Pakistani officials knew about former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad, former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director general Michael Hayden says he cannot find a logical reason as to why they would not share such information with the US.
Speaking to The Express Tribune on the sidelines of the Aspen Security Forum, Hayden, the ex-CIA spymaster from 2006-2009, said that this was merely his own opinion and not based on any specific evidence, as he was not in office at the time. “If someone has a contrary position, they are going to have to show me some facts,” Hayden said.
While declining to comment specifically on the US drone programme, Hayden said: “The president [Barack Obama] has made it very clear that we have worked very hard to take our enemies off the battlefield. I think we have been very successful in making the organisation that attacked us on 9/11 less capable of attacking the US again.”
However, he said that while using drones was a successful tactic, which he supports, it needed to be part of a broader strategic approach that addresses the US’ relationship with Pakistan. “Frankly, it saddens me to say that the way we view the problem and the way the Pakistani government views the problem today isn’t nearly as close as it used to be. So, as we go forward and carry out such tactical practices, I think we also have to keep in mind the long-term strategic relationship, and we need to tend to its costs and benefits to the best of our abilities both in Washington and in Islamabad.”
ISI chief’s visit to the US
General Hayden added that he had seen press reports that Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence chief General Zaheerul Islam would be visiting the US soon to meet his CIA counterpart General David Petraeus.
“I think the important thing is that they develop a common understanding of the threat, a common understanding of the situation. I mentioned before that we have a government whose policy seems to be divergent, that may be based on a different view of what is going on.” Hayden said that, “I’ve found that candid, honest exchanges of information between intelligence services very often gives policymakers more common ground on which to build more complimentary, more consistent, and, frankly, more successful, policies.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2012.