A US assessment after the Abbottabad raid concluded there is no evidence that the Pakistani government knew the whereabouts of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, the commander of US Special Operations Command revealed on Thursday.
Navy Admiral William H McRaven told a summit that Pakistan wasn’t informed of the raid that led to the death of bin Laden because the initial assumption was “How could they not know he was there?” Senior leaders, he said, believed informing Pakistan about the raid in advance would have put the mission at risk.
McRaven said he doesn’t believe the Pakistani government knew bin Laden’s whereabouts, the Pentagon reported.
“We have no intelligence that indicates the Pakistanis knew he was there,” he added. The US special forces took out Osama bin Laden from his Abbottabad hideout in a secret May 1 night operation last year. McRaven said there was never a moment he doubted the raid would succeed. Though bin Laden is dead, non-state actors still present a threat, the admiral noted. “We’ve done a terrific job of taking care of the core of al- Qaida,” McRaven said. But, he added, “there’s no such thing as a local problem anymore. … Everything in the world is connected.” This interconnectedness means the future of special operations lies in partnerships with other nations, he added. “We understand … to minimize the rise of violent extremism, you have to create the conditions on the ground where people have good jobs, where there is the rule of law, where there is stability [and] where there is good governance,” he said. “We think, from a military standpoint, we can certainly help with the security that will be required to help begin to build some of that stability.
“The raids get all the media attention,” he continued, “but the reality of the matter is the bulk of what we do is building partner capacity and working with host nations. I think that’s the future of special operations,” he said.
No progress on militant havens in Pakistan: US commander
A bilateral security agreement between the United States (US) and Afghanistan might influence Pakistan to stop hedging its bets on terrorist networks, said General Joseph Dunford who has been nominated by President Obama as Commander of the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and is likely to replace General John Allen.
In his confirmation hearing, Dunford said there has been no progress on the issue of safe havens in Pakistan.
“It is not apparent to me that there’s been any progress with the safe haven issue in Pakistan,” Dunford said. “Do you believe that any strategy in Afghanistan can be successful while militants continue to enjoy safe haven in Pakistan?” McCain asked.
“Senator, I think over time, safe haven in Pakistan needs to be addressed,” he said. “I think Pakistan hedges its bets based on what they believe our long-term commitment to the region would be. And their calculus will be changed as a result of their knowing that we are not only going to be there through December of 2014, but we’ll be there beyond 2014 to secure our national objectives,” he further said. The current US-Afghan negotiations on bilateral security agreement would have an impact on Islamabad’s policies towards Afghanistan, he noted.
“The other capitals that have interest – Iran, Russia, China – all the countries that have interest in Afghanistan, their calculus would be affected by our signing a bilateral security agreement. And again, more importantly, the signing of that agreement will be reflecting the commitment that was initially made in May of 2012,” he said. Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Senator Carl Levin said Islamabad is the first capital that will be affected by the bilateral security agreement. “The whole argument that you referred to, that part of the reason they continue to be tied (some elements of the Pakistani government and ISI to terrorist groups like Haqqani network) is that they’re hedging their bets for what happens the day after we leave. If we’re not leaving, presumably, they lose that argument,” he argued.
The relationship between India and Pakistan is also critical for regional stability and American success in Afghanistan, said Dunford. “At this point I don’t have insight into what our government is doing to try to make work the very delicate relationship between Pakistan and India,” said Dunford.
“I’m certainly aware that that is going to be critical to regional stability in the long term and our success in Afghanistan,” General Joseph Dunford told lawmakers during his confirmation hearing.
“If confirmed I suspect that I’ll be involved in that issue and have an opportunity to provide some military advice as our civilian leadership works through the diplomatic peace,” he said, responding to a question from Senator Mark Udall.