My first thought when I heard the news that Osama Bin Laden was killed was where do we go from here. I was not expecting the news on a late Sunday night that the most-wanted man in the world had been killed. When I did hear the news my mind did not go back to 9/11 but instead searched for news on how this event occurred within Pakistan. At a time when Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda had a wide swath of support in the country that neighbors Afghanistan, how did the Pakistan government play a role in the killing?
This will be one of the major spokes of this story, and I have been following that part of the news for a couple of hours.
There are many reports from NBC and CNN over what happened in Pakistan, and how much the Pakistani government and military were aware of what was being planned that finally ended with the killing of Bin Laden on Sunday. These reports are very important, and how this took place in Pakistan over the past days and weeks will have a huge impact on how this region moves forward in the months to come.
NBC is reporting that for U.S. security needs Pakistan was not informed about the months of preparation for the attack on the compound where Bin Laden was living. It has long been reported that the internal security forces in Pakistan have members who support Al-Qaeda, and have posed problems with leaks about planned attacks. That is easy to understand, and makes sense from a U.S. military planning perspective to keep the mission secret.
However, CNN reported online that Pakistan had members of Pakistan’s intelligence service – the ISI – on site in Abbotabad, Pakistan, during the operation that killed bin Laden.
Later CNN reported much the same as NBC.
A senior administration official told reporters that U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration did not share intelligence gathered before the attack on bin Laden in Pakistan with any other country – including Pakistan – for security reasons.
As much as the world is correctly lifted by the news over the end to Bin Laden, the very last thing we need would be for a totally unilateral effort where Pakistan was not involved with, or privy to the plans until the time military action was underway, or until after it was completed. The complexity of the reasons for keeping Pakistan stable and in a working mode with US interests is vital. Having the U.S. take the bold but necessary steps it did without Pakistan’s involvement will roil those elements hostile to the current Pakistani government, and make our mission in the region far more tenuous. It will make Pakistan look weak if their airspace was invaded, and a mission of this scope took place without their knowledge or involvement.
It may seem like there are no good military or diplomatic options at times in many places around the globe. Often that is the case, and tonight we are witnessing one of those moments seemingly play out.
We now know which story is going to drive the week.