Lobbyists or no lobbyists, it may be dawning on Pakistan that this situation isn’t going to get any less awkward. “Bin Laden ‘may have lived in Pakistan for over 7 years’,” by Kamran Haider for Reuters, May 7:
CHAK SHAH MOHAMMAD, Pakistan (Reuters) — Osama bin Laden may have lived in Pakistan for over seven years before being shot dead by U.S. forces, senior Pakistani security officials said on Saturday, a disclosure that could further anger key ally Washington over the presence of enemy number one in the country.
One of bin Laden’s widows told Pakistani investigators that he stayed in a village for nearly two and a half years before moving to the nearby garrison town of Abbottabad, where he was killed on Monday.
The wife, Amal Ahmed Abdulfattah, told investigators earlier that bin Laden and his family had spent five years in Abbottabad, where one of the most elaborate and expensive manhunts in history ended.
“Amal (bin Laden’s wife) told investigators that they lived in a village in Haripur district for nearly two and a half years before moving to Abbottabad at the end of 2005,” one of the security officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Abdulfattah, along with two other wives and several children, were among 15-16 people detained by Pakistani authorities at the compound after the raid.
Pakistan, heavily dependent on billions of dollars of U.S. aid, is under heavy pressure to explain how bin Laden could have spent so many years undetected a few hours drive from its intelligence headquarters in the capital.
Suspicions have deepened that Pakistan’s pervasive Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency, which has a long history of contacts with militant groups, may have had ties with bin Laden — or that at least some of its agents did. The agency has been described as a state within a state.
Pakistan has dismissed such suggestions and says it has paid the highest price in human life and money supporting the U.S. war on militancy launched after bin Laden’s followers staged the September 11, 2001, attacks on America.
Security officials said Pakistan had launched an investigation into bin Laden’s presence in the South Asian country seen as critical to stabilizing neighboring Afghanistan.
“It is very serious that bin Laden lived in cities (in Pakistan)… and we couldn’t nail it down fully,” said one of the officials.
Pakistani leaders were already facing staggering problems before revelations that bin Laden was in their backyard raised new questions about their commitment to fighting militancy….
Indeed. Their cultivation and support of jihadist groups to do their work in Kashmir and against Western powers may yet cost them Pakistan itself.