…. And from Abbottabad the Star’s Rick Westhead reports that some locals believed the compound belonged to a relative of the Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, or a drug dealer. Others reportedly thought Hizbul Mujahedeen, a Kashmiri militant group, was using it.
Given rumours that the site housed Al Qaeda terrorists, Taliban bigwigs, Kashmiri militants and drug barons, why didn’t the ISI move in on bin Laden? How can he have lived there for years?
The world can debate whether U.S. forces were justified in killing bin Laden, and the extent to which the U.S. should air gruesome evidence of the raid. But one thing is clear: “It’s inconceivable that bin Laden did not have a support system in the country,” as U.S. President Barack Obama’s top counterterrorism official said. Who ran that support network? Who built the compound? Who brought bin Laden in? Who supplied him all these years? If not people with links to the security services, then who? Or were the security services playing a double game, as they have in the past?
This is a credibility issue for Zardari and his top military and intelligence chiefs. They have some explaining to do, and there’s a lot at stake. Since 9/11 Pakistan has received $20 billion in U.S. assistance, and relies on billions more each year from other countries. It owes the World Bank and other lenders $54 billion, and needs foreign help to service those loans and get new ones. If world opinion sours on Pakistan, the effects could be harsh.
For years, Pakistani officials denied bin Laden was hiding there. The U.S. raid exploded that untruth. Now they say they have no idea where Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar and other insurgents may be. How credible is that? And how hard are they looking?
Courtesy: Toronto Star