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‘US delayed Osama raid fearing fallout`

The US was 60 percent sure of Osama bin Laden`s presence at a compound in Abbottabad.

Updated: Aug 01, 2011, 00:39 AM IST

Islamabad: The US was "60 percent sure" of Osama bin Laden`s presence at a compound in Abbottabad where he was killed on May 02 but chose to "delay its operation knowing the implications it would have on its relationship with Pakistan", according to security sources.

The Inter-Services Intelligence agency translated a communication in Arabic by bin Laden`s courier Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti for the CIA and this "ultimately led to the compound of the al Qaeda chief", a source said.

The source criticised a statement from the then CIA chief Leon Panetta after the May 02 operation as "rubbing salt into their wounds".

Referring to Pakistan`s failure to detect bin Laden`s presence, Panetta, who is now US Secretary of Defence, had said Islamabad had either been complicit or incompetent.

The source said there was never a "dispute on targeting al Qaeda" and that the ISI "had somehow failed to follow" the communication by bin Laden`s courier al-Kuwaiti.

"The US and Pakistan have realisation to cooperate against the common enemy (of terrorism). But undefined arrangements have resulted in (CIA contractor) Raymond Davis-like incidents that had brought embarrassment for us.”

“We have to set parameters to avert such situations in future. We must work out arrangements acceptable to both sides," the source said.

After the May 02 raid against bin Laden, Pakistan`s image was tarnished abroad, the sources said.

"Had this operation been carried out by Pakistani forces, things would have been different," a source said.

Pakistan-US relations should be "redefined, documented and streamlined", the sources said.

"The militaries and governments of the two countries should cooperate with each other against the common enemy. Pressure should be eased from Pakistan because it constricts space for manoeuvres. We are losing space which is required for success against militants," a source said.

The sources said Pakistan and the US need to know each other`s terms of reference.

"Leave the judgment to us, let us read our environment, we have to shape the condition. It cannot happen on the wishes of others," a source said.

Referring to the situation in Afghanistan, the sources said Pakistan has strong reservations about the capability of the Afghan National Army to take care of security following the withdrawal of foreign troops from the war-torn country.

If the US Congress loses interest in Afghanistan, the ANA will face "severe financial problems", the sources said.

Parts of the Afghan province of Nuristan are under Taliban control and foreign troops have pulled out from all forward bases in Kunar and Nuristan provinces.

Due to this, large numbers of militants are using these regions as launch pads for thwarting the successes achieved by Pakistani forces in Mohmand and Bajaur tribal regions, the sources claimed.

The sources said US forces had vacated most parts of the Shamsi airbase, reported to be used by CIA-operated drones.

"There are no drones at Shamsi airbase. They are operating from Afghanistan," a source said. There was no agreement with the US on the drone campaign and Shamsi airbase was given to the Americans for logistics and not "active operations", sources said.

"To our judgment, the drone campaign is counter-productive, which is further complicating the problem," a source said.

The sources claimed the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan had been flushed out of Bajaur and Mohmand Agencies and the Swat valley.

"A lot of them (militants) have been killed. Nearly 1,500 militants have surrendered in Mohmand Agency, where the forces have destroyed seven IED-making factories," a source said.

PTI