But the accounts show consistent Pakistani suspicion that the Americans would ultimately betray them in Afghanistan, leaving Pakistan surrounded by an unfriendly government on their western border, allied with India, their historical adversary to the east.
A July 29, 2008, Washington meeting between Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani and his national security adviser, Mahmud Ali Durrani, and then-CIA Director Michael V. Hayden, his deputy Stephen R. Kappes and Anne W. Patterson, then the U.S. ambassador to Islamabad, illustrates the wariness on both sides.
The previous day, a U.S. drone-launched missile had killed Abu Khabab al-Masri, described as al-Qaeda’s chief bomb-maker and chemical weapons expert, in South Waziristan in Pakistan’s tribal region along the Afghanistan border.
Hayden apologized for collateral damage (news reports said three civilians were killed), and the strike had occurred during Gillani’s visit to the United States. The CIA director noted that the ISI had not contributed any targeting information.
Both sides referred to repeated Pakistani requests that the United States place Baitullah Mehsud, a leader of Pakistan’s increasingly lethal domestic insurgency, at the top of the hit list.
Kappes agreed that Mehsud was a legitimate target, but said that Sirajuddin Haqqani, a North Waziristan-based Afghan whose insurgent network regularly attacked U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan, was a far higher U.S. priority.
Pakistan’s insistence that it had no intelligence on Haqqani’s whereabouts was disingenuous, Patterson said during the meeting. The ISI was in “constant touch” with him, and the madrassa where he conducted business was clearly visible from the Pakistani army garrison in North Waziristan. (Mehsud was killed in an August 2009 drone strike. Haqqani remains high on the U.S. target list.)
In a series of December 2008 meetings following the terrorist attack in Mumbai that left nearly 200 people dead — including six Americans — top Bush administration officials told Pakistan there was “irrefutable” intelligence proof that the Pakistani group Lashkar-i-Taiba was responsible.
A written communication delivered to Pakistan said that “it is clear to us that [Lashkar-i-Taiba] is responsible . . . we know that it continues to receive support, including operational support, from the Pakistani military intelligence service.”
As the Obama administration continued efforts to persuade Pakistan — while escalating the number of drone strikes — Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, as well as Durrani and other officials, were repeatedly told that the United States would reach a breaking point.
In a November 2009 letter to President Asif Ali Zardari, Obama offered a new level of partnership — later buttressed with increased military and economic assistance. But he warned that the existing state of affairs, with Pakistan seeing insurgent groups as proxies for influence in Afghanistan, could not continue.
The following May, a Pakistani immigrant, the son of an army officer, allegedly tried to explode a car bomb in New York’s Times Square. Subsequent investigations traced his training to Pakistani insurgent camps.
In October, Obama dropped in on a high-level White House meeting between his national security team and Kayani. Referring to the Times Square bombing attempt, Obama warned that if a successful attack in this country were traced to Pakistan, his hands would be tied in terms of the future U.S.-Pakistan relationship.
In an interview last week in Pakistan, Durrani said he was not surprised at the unilateral U.S. attack on bin Laden. “The Americans had made it clear long ago that if they find a high-value target of this level, wherever in the world [they would] go after it,” he said.
What surprised him, Durrani said, was that “it made me look stupid” after years of talks with U.S. officials in which “I kept on trumpeting at the top of my voice, ‘Osama bin Laden cannot be here.’ ”
Brulliard reported from Islamabad.