Given the huge, unhidden compound in a suburb of Islamabad, it’s fair to ask how in the world Pakistan allowed Osama bin Laden to encamp within its borders.
The Daily Caller reports:
Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, wants answers from Pakistan officials on what they knew about Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts, and how long they knew he was hiding in a suburb near the Pakistan’s capitol.
Bin Laden was killed by U.S. Navy Seals Sunday during a raid on a million-dollar compound near Islamabad where it is thought that the al Qaeda leader had been hiding for years.
“The Pakistani Army and Intelligence have a lot of questions to answer given the location, the length of time and apparent fact that this … facility was actually built for bin Laden and it’s closeness to the central location of the Pakistani Army,” Levin said Monday, the morning after President Obama announced that bin Laden had been killed.
The Post reports that this concern is widespread:
“How could [bin Laden] be in such a compound without being noticed?” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on Fox News Monday morning. A Senate hearing on U.S.-Pakistan relations is scheduled for this week.
In India, Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram noted “with grave concerns” that “terrorists belonging to different organizations find sanctuary in Pakistan.” He said India still believes the people behind the Mumbai terror attacks in his country are being sheltered in Pakistan.
“It is a bit embarrassing, that even if he was hiding there, [the Pakistani army] would not know,” said Rahimullah Yusufzai, a Pakistani journalist who is an expert on militancy in the country’s northwest. “It means your intelligence is not good.”
Or that your intelligence is playing a double game, assisting the United States but also playing footsie both with the Taliban and its al-Qaeda partners in Afghanistan. A national security expert suggests to me that “this was most probably not a unilateral operation. Not in that area. I would love to know the internal Pakistan military/civilian conversations.” Wouldn’t we all?
But the explanation of Pakistan’s role is no doubt not as simplistic as some would imagine. In understanding what role Pakistan played we should garner some lessons about its reliability as a “partner” in the Afghanistan war. The dilemma is as it has always been: The Pakistanis can’t be trusted but shouldn’t be discarded. What balance we strike, and what penalty Pakistan plays for perpetuating its double-agent status, are questions that should absorb lawmakers and the White House.