Toronto: Pakistan was lucky not to have intervened in Sunday night`s US military operation to kill Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden as Americans had armed jets on standby in Afghanistan to respond massively, says a media report here.
"Pakistan might have gotten very, very lucky on Sunday`` as the US would have responded massively to its interference in the operation to take out the world`s most wanted terrorist, the National Post newspaper said here.
"Given the importance of extracting bin Laden`s body for examination and the obvious desire of the US to protect its special forces is that, yes, America would have shot down any Pakistani jet that attempted to intervene in the operation,`` the paper said.
"They (Americans) were likely gambling that they would be in and out of Pakistan before a battle became necessary, or perhaps they were able to impress upon the Pakistani civilian leadership the extreme consequences that would ensue if Pakistan`s fighters interfered in the operation.``
The paper said Pakistan would have been entirely within its legal rights to fire on any unauthorized foreign military forces operating over their territory.
"Abbottabad isn`t some backwater, lawless tribal area, but by all reports an affluent city. American military forces were operating there without permission. It`s easy to foresee that the Pakistanis would have felt entirely justified in firing on them.``
But from the Pentagon`s perspective, the paper said, "they (Americans) would have been ready for it... Pakistan might have gotten very, very lucky on Sunday.``
The paper said "there seems to be growing consensus that Pakistan was informed of the operation (only) as it got under way, not consulted in advance - and certainly not asked permission.
"This is important, because the Pakistani military is quite powerful and advanced, and would be capable of responding to a foreign military incursion if it so chose.``
The paper said Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters used by US Navy SEALs to carry out the raid would have been "easy prey for any Pakistani fighter jet that the Americans detected approaching bin Laden`s compound, or that tried to pursue the helicopters as they returned to Afghanistan.
"Therefore assume that the Americans had some forces on standby to protect their SEALs and helicopters, which probably means armed fighter jets loitering inside Afghanistan, ready to cross into Pakistan with cannons and missiles blazing - if necessary.``
The paper also quoted John O. Brennan, Obama`s counter-terrorism advisor, who said Monday that "thankfully there was no engagement with Pakistani forces.``