London: In a secret deal struck a decade
ago, the US and Pakistan agreed that Washington will carry out
a unilateral operation against Osama bin Laden on Pakistani
soil if he was found there following which Islamabad would
vociferously protest the incursion, a media report said Tuesday.
The then military leader Gen Pervez Musharraf and then
US President George Bush struck the deal after bin Laden
escaped US forces in Afghanistan`s Tora Bora mountains in late
2001, the Guardian newspaper reported.
Under the deal, Pakistan would allow US forces to
conduct a unilateral raid on its soil in search of bin Laden
and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri. Afterwards, both sides
agreed, Pakistan would vociferously protest the incursion, the
paper quoted serving and retired Pakistani and US officials as
"There was an agreement between Bush and Musharraf
that if we knew where Osama was, we were going to come and get
him," said a former senior US official familiar with the
counter-terrorism operations. "The Pakistanis would put up a
hue and cry, but they wouldn`t stop us."
A senior Pakistani official said it had been struck
under Musharraf and renewed by the army during the "transition
to democracy" a six-month period from February 2008 when
Musharraf was still president but a civilian government had
Referring to the killing of bin Laden in Abbottabad
compound near Islamabad, the Pakistani official said: "As far
as our American friends are concerned, they have just
implemented the agreement."
The former US official said the Pakistani protests of
the past week were the "public face" of the deal. "We knew
they would deny this stuff."
The deal puts a new complexion on the political storm
triggered by bin Laden`s death, with Prime Minister Yousuf
Raza Gilani strongly protesting the raid and warning that
"Pakistan reserves the right to retaliate with full force."
54-year-old bin Laden was killed by the US Special
Forces in a secret operation in the garrison town of
Abbottabad, 80 kms from Pakistani capital Islamabad. Pakistan
has said it was "intelligence-driven operation by the US" and
it was not informed prior to the raid.