US seeking answers from Pakistan about Osama

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : US is talking with the Pakistanis to try to understand “what they knew and what they didn’t know” with regard to Osama bin Laden hiding in plain sight so close the capital city of Islamabad.

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But “we have no definitive evidence at this point that they knew if Osama bin Laden was at this compound,” US Undersecretary of Defence for Policy Michele Flournoy said Thursday.

Pakistan needs to strengthen its counterterrorism cooperation with the United States as one result of the May 1 raid that killed the Al Qaida leader in his Abbottabad hideout, just 50 km north of Islamabad, she said.

The operation dealt a very severe blow against Al Qaeda, she said, and the US will use this in dealing with allies and foes alike, she told reporters at the Aspen Institute Thursday.

Flournoy said she has been talking with Pakistani allies about the importance of strengthening counterterrorism cooperation “and moving forward in a way in which the cooperation is visible and concrete and undeniable.”

“There’s great opportunity for cooperation in making sense of what we learn from the materials gathered in the operation,” she said, “from understanding the network as it remains and how to put further pressure on the network to hasten its demise, and more broadly to cooperate in a way that ultimately helps stabilise not only Pakistan but Afghanistan.”

Flournoy described the contacts as “very candid,” and stressed the need for concrete moves on the Pakistanis’ part to prove their commitment.

She said she had urged them to take clear steps to show Congress that they were committed to fighting terrorism and working with the United States. The operation also has relevance in Afghanistan, she said. “I would hope the Taliban are re-thinking their future,” she said.

The US supports an Afghan-led reconciliation process, Flournoy said, in which the Taliban would have to renounce Al Qaida, renounce violence and agree to abide by the Afghan constitution.

Now that bin Laden is dead, she said, the personal ties that connected senior Taliban leaders to him are broken.

“And that creates an opportunity for them to step forward and renounce Al Qaeda and any affiliation with it,” she added.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])