Pakistani leaders reacted cautiously to news that U.S. special forces had killed Osama bin Laden on their soil Sunday. The country's foreign ministry released a statement saying the al Qaeda leader's death demonstrated the resolve of global allies to fight terrorists. But the news that bin Laden was hiding out in a specially constructed compound in a key military town, immediately fueled suspicions that members of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) had been helping the terrorist leader avoid capture. President Obama credited Pakistan with helping track down bin Laden, but he didn't alert Pakistan to the raid beforehand, presumably so no one could tip off al Qaeda. Were Pakistan's military and intelligence service really unaware of bin Laden's location?
Clearly, Pakistani officials helped hide bin Laden: "Bin Laden wasn't hiding in some dank cave," says Matt Gurney in Canada's National Post. He was in a fortified, newly built mansion "within a 10 minute walk — a mere thousand yards — of a Pakistani military academy where the best of Pakistan's officers are trained." The obvious explanation is that people in the military and intelligence service were helping bin Laden avoid capture. If not, they're incompetent. Either way, we can no longer trust Pakistan as an ally.
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America is as much to blame as Pakistan: The fact that bin Laden managed to hide in plain sight definitely constitutes an intelligence failure, says former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf, as quoted by ABC News. But it's unfair to point fingers solely at Pakistan. All along the hunt for bin Laden was a cooperative effort between the U.S. and Pakistan. If the fact that it took 10 years to catch up with him is evidence of a problem within the ISI, "it is also a failure of the CIA."
"Osama bin Laden killing: Pakistan reacts cautiously to U.S. raid on its soil"
We are about to find out whose side Pakistan is on: Pakistan's military and intelligence officials have always "played a high-stakes double game," says Dexter Filkins at The New Yorker. They support the U.S. fight against terrorists — collecting billions in foreign aid for their trouble — while some of them, particularly in the ISI, "have provided support for America’s enemies." It's important, and fair, to ask whether Pakistani officials were helping bin Laden, and "in the coming days, we may find out just how cooperative the Pakistanis have really been."
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