Saturday, May 7, 2011

Pakistan Warns U.S. Against Raids

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Pakistan's army chief and a top diplomat warned against a repeat of this week's U.S. raid against Osama bin Laden, strongly suggesting American forces could next time face military resistance and see its intelligence cooperation with Pakistan sharply curtailed—a development that would threaten the Afghan war effort and global counter-terrorism operations.

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir spoke in Islamabad on Thursday.

Salman Bashir, the country's foreign secretary, said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that a repeat of Monday's raid could lead to "terrible consequences." Pakistani and U.S. officials have said Pakistan was not told about the attack that killed bin Laden until after the fact, which has led to Pakistani protests that their sovereignty was violated.

Mr. Bashir said that Pakistan had scrambled two F-16 fighter jets after becoming aware of the attack. A confrontation was averted only because they arrived on the scene after the U.S. helicopters involved in the raid had crossed back into Afghan air space. They had flown to Abbottabad from Afghanistan.

"No self-respecting nation would compromise or allow others to compromise its sovereignty," Mr. Bashir said. "We want to make it absolutely clear to everyone—do not underestimate Pakistan's capabilities and capacity to do what is necessary for national security."

In response to the suggestion that terrible consequence would greet any future raid, a U.S. official said: "They need to spend less time lashing out at the U.S. and more time rooting out militants on Pakistani territory."

For now, Pakistan is refusing to allow U.S. officials to interrogate women and children left behind in the compound where bin Laden was killed, depriving American officials of potentially valuable intelligence. Pakistan is instead conducting its own questioning of the detainees, which include bin Laden's 12-year-olddaughter.

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Still, Mr. Bashir stressed the importance of Pakistan's relationship with the U.S., which gives Islamabad billions of dollars in civilian and military aid.

The unilateral strike has dangerously unhinged a 60-year-old partnership between the two nations, leaving the Pakistanis embarrassed and resentful and the Americans even more mistrustful of their supposed allies.

After the Raid in the Compound

While President Obama has decided not to release photographs of Osama bin Laden taken after the al Qaeda leader was shot to death Sunday by U.S. forces, other photos taken at the compound have been released by Reuters.

Timeline: His Life

His Compound

On the ground

Diagram from the U.S. government

Photos inside and out

Anjum Naveed/Associated Press

U.S. forces found Osama bin Laden at this compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, about 40 miles outside Islamabad.

Army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani acknowledged in a statement Thursday, after a meeting of senior commanders, that there were intelligence failures on Pakistan's part and said the military had ordered an investigation.

But, he added that another similar attack by the U.S. would lead to Pakistan curtailing its intelligence and military cooperation, which is seen as crucial to combating the Taliban and winding down the war in Afghanistan.

A senior Pakistani defense official said Gen. Kayani had made the same point in a call from Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, after the raid. Gen. Kayani congratulated Adm. Mullen on "the good news" but also told him "such actions were not acceptable," said the official. "General Kayani also asked the admiral that American officials should refrain from making any negative comment against Pakistan. To which Mr. Mullen agreed."

Since then, some U.S. officials have said they believe elements of Pakistan's spy service, Inter-Services Intelligence, a part of the military, shielded bin Laden without the knowledge of Gen. Kayani.

Mr. Bashir said Pakistan was looking at winnowing back the presence of U.S. forces in Pakistan, a threat first made in the wake of public anger at the shooting dead of two armed Pakistani men in Lahore in January by Raymond Davis, a contractor for the Central Intelligence Agency.

Mr. Bashir pointed out that Pakistan had arrested almost 300 members of al Qaeda either alone or in joint operations with the U.S. since the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, including 9/11 mastermind Khaled Sheikh Muhammed. In turn, al Qaeda leaders turned on Pakistan, unleashing a wave of bomb attacks on civilian and military targets.

"Osama bin Laden declared war against Pakistan. He launched wave after wave of suicide bombers who killed thousands of Pakistani men, women and children. These were the people who attacked the ISI, who attacked (military) general headquarters, who have attacked mosques and shrines," Mr. Bashir said. "You've got to be a really fantastic spin master to say the ISI or elements of the ISI are involved in this."

Mr. Bashir claimed Pakistan provided the U.S. in 2009 with content from wiretapped mobile phone conversations of bin Laden's courier, the man who would eventually lead them to the al Qaeda chief.

Pakistani officials didn't know at the time the importance of the man or what would become of the conversations, Mr. Bashir said, praising the CIA's ability to turn the scraps of Arabic conversations into what he termed a "great success."

The U.S. official said the Americans had only been given phone numbers in 2009.

Christine Fair, an associate professor and Pakistan expert at Georgetown University in Washington DC, said Pakistan's "record of helping us with al Qaeda is indisputable." Where the country has failed is in arresting Afghan Taliban and allied Pakistani militant groups that have focused their attacks against U.S. troops in Afghanistan or on Indian targets.

U.S. officials say they are now trying to pressure Pakistan to arrest Mullah Muhammad Omar, the one-eyed Afghan Taliban leader, and other militants believed to be sheltering in Pakistan. The U.S. believes Pakistan is shielding Taliban leaders like Mullah Omar because they view them as tools that may be needed to maintain Pakistani influence in Afghanistan once U.S. troops begin to pull out, a gradual process that will start in July.

Pakistan denies the allegation, and Mr. Bashir said the country does not know if Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders are in Pakistan.

—Zahid Hussain in Islamabad and Siobhan Gorman and Julian Barnes in Washington contributed to this article.

Write to Tom Wright at and Matthew Rosenberg at

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