Opinion Brief

Is Pakistan protecting Osama bin Laden?

The terrorist mastermind is reported to be living "comfortably" in Pakistan. Are the country's intelligence officials covering up for him?

Osama bin Laden is alive, well, and living in "relative comfort" in northwest Pakistan, according to a senior NATO official. The al Qaeda leader reportedly is hiding in a house close to the border with Afghanistan, with his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, living nearby. The unidentified NATO source says bin Laden is being protected by some members of the Pakistani intelligence services — an allegation that has surfaced before, but not by figures within NATO. Pakistan denies the claims. "Our reaction from day one to such stories is clear," said Deputy Information Minister Samsam Bokhari. "He is not here." Could Pakistan really be protecting bin Laden? (Watch an AP report about the search for bin Laden)

Of course Pakistan is helping Osama: It has long been apparent, says David Rothkopf at Foreign Policy, that the Pakistani secret service acts as a "welcome wagon for terrorists." Pakistan says it pounces when it receives credible information, but every time it does sympathetic intelligence officials simply find bin Laden "new digs." Their "efficiency" means he will remain "an obsession" and terror war prize the U.S. will never claim."On the latest sighting of 21st century America's great white whale"

Well then, why doesn't NATO prove it? "If NATO officials are so confident of bin Laden's whereabouts," says Atika Rehman at Pakistan's Express Tribune, "why don't they go after him?" If they have proof our intelligence officials are hiding him, "why not expose them"? This is just "one conspiracy theory after another." Our country must find out who really is helping the terrorists, so we can put this story to rest once and for all."Hunt for Osama: making sense of it all"

Pakistan must help us find Osama: "This is the first time in many, many years that the finger has been pointed so blatantly at Pakistan," says Nic Robertson at CNN World. It's almost certainly a deliberate effort to put pressure on the country "to provide what the U.S. and NATO want." The country may be reluctant to turn in a man "many people see as a hero of Islam," but if Pakistan wants the West's aid in making its border regions safe, it must help give up bin Laden."Analysis: NATO points finger at Pakistan"

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