`What if Pak found out to be harbouring Osama?`

The US has refrained from answering in public on consequences for Pakistan.

Last Updated: May 09, 2011, 15:33 PM IST

Washington: The White House has refrained from answering in public on consequences for Pakistan if the American investigations find out that it harboured al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

"I don`t want to speculate with a hypothetical at this point. I do want to say something else," White House National Security Advisor Tom Donilon told the NBC news in an interview when asked what will be the consequences if the US finds out that Pakistan harboured bin Laden.

"But hold it right there, that`s not hypothetical. That is the object, the subject, of your investigation into Pakistan right now," Donilon was asked by the anchor.

"I think that we should find the facts first, right? That`s the first thing I want to say," Donilon responded.

"But will Pakistan be held accountable should, what president Bush alluded to, that they were harbouring a terrorist. If that proves to be the case, will they be accountable?" anchor asked again.

"I think that we`ve indicated that we will act to protect our interests. With respect to Pakistan, I want to put it in perspective. It`s really important to do this," Donilon responded.

"We`ve had differences with Pakistan. There was some support network in Abbottabad, Pakistan, which supported bin Laden. We haven`t seen evidence that the government knew about that, but they need to investigate that, and they need to provide us with intelligence, by the way, from the compound, that they`ve gathered, including access to Osama bin Laden`s three wives, whom they have in custody," he said.

"It is important to underscore here that we need to act in our national interest. We have had difficulties with Pakistan, as I said, but we`ve also had to work very closely with Pakistan in our counter terror efforts. More terrorists and extremists have been captured and killed in Pakistan than anyplace else in the world," he observed.

"At this point, I can tell you directly that I`ve not seen evidence that would tell us that the political, the military, or the intelligence leadership had foreknowledge of bin Laden," he said.

"At this point, I haven`t seen evidence that would indicate they had foreknowledge of this, that`s the first point. The second point, though, is the fact, which you are alluding to. It`s that Osama bin Laden was in this town for six years, 35 miles away from the capital of Pakistan, Islamabad, in a town that was known as a military town where they had an important military academy. This needs to be investigated," Donilon said.

"The Pakistanis have said they`re going to investigate it. This is a very big issue in Pakistan right now – how could this have happened in Pakistan? We need to investigate it, we need to work with the Pakistanis, and we`re pressing the Pakistanis on this in the intelligence," he said.

PTI