Islamabad: For the first time since the May 02 raid, Pakistan has officially acknowledged that there was a local support group, most probably from al Qaeda and its affiliates, that helped Osama bin Laden stay in Abbottabad undetected for five years.
The confession comes at a time when the US government has given a clean chit to Pakistan’s leadership, saying that there was “absolutely no evidence that anyone at the highest levels of the Pakistani Government knew” that bin Laden was living just 50 kilometres northeast of Islamabad.
The Saudi-born terrorist, who had evaded capture for a decade, was killed on May 02 in a top-secret operation involving a small team of US Special Forces in Abbottabad.
“I would again like to recall that Secretary (Hillary) Clinton said that the US has absolutely no reason to believe that anyone at the highest levels of Government knew about Osama and that there was an investigation being carried out to find out the facts,” Foreign Office spokeswoman Tehmina Janjua said during a press briefing.
“Obviously, everyone in Pakistan is also interested to know the answer to that question. The answer we will be through the investigation that is being carried out. Obviously, there must have been a local support group, presumably consisting of al Qaeda and its affiliates for bin Laden. This is common sense. The ongoing investigations hopefully will bare the truth,” she added.
However, Janjua refused to get into the details of a ‘most wanted terrorists’ list handed over by the United States to Pakistan, expecting it to provide intelligence about them immediately and possibly target them in joint operations.
When asked about the list of five militant Islamic leaders, she said: “These are operational details that I will not go into at this point nor would I venture into the media speculation on it. What we need to focus on the larger picture and to ensure that the Pakistan-US relationship remains on track especially in the context of fighting terrorism and on matters of regional stability.”