Pakistan acknowledged Tuesday that its security forces were not part of the weekend operation to kill Osama bin Laden.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari wrote in a Washington Post column Tuesday that the targeted assault on the compound in Pakistan holding bin Laden was not a joint operation between the United States and Pakistan.
Nevertheless, Zardari stressed that the killing of bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda and mastermind of the September 11 attacks, was a result of years of cooperation between the United States and Pakistan.
"He was not anywhere we had anticipated he would be, but now he is gone," Zardari said in the column, the first public comment by a Pakistani leader on the raid. "Although the events of Sunday were not a joint operation, a decade of cooperation and partnership between the United States and Pakistan led up to the elimination of Osama bin Laden as a continuing threat to the civilized world."
The news that bin Laden was killed in a luxury mansion-like compound in a Pakistani city that housed military garrisons has raised more questions about the commitment of Pakistan’s military and intelligence service to fighting terrorist activity and has threatened to worsen U.S.-Pakistani ties.
“It’s inconceivable that bin Laden did not have a support system in the country that allowed him to remain there for an extended period of time,” John O. Brennan, President Obama’s top counterterrorism official, said at a White House briefing on Monday, as reported in the New York Times.
There were disagreements among U.S. officials Monday over how much the Pakistanis knew concerning bin Laden’s whereabouts. Some said there was no indication Pakistanis knew bin Laden was at the Abbottabad compound.
Others expressed deep skepticism, noting the proximity of bin Laden’s compound to a military academy.
Zardari uses the column to stress that Pakistan welcomes the killing of bin Laden and has been deeply affected by terrorist activity on its soil. He writes that he has been personally affected by terrorism, mentioning the assassination of his wife, Benazir Bhutto.
"And for me, justice against bin Laden was not just political; it was also personal, as the terrorists murdered our greatest leader, the mother of my children."
However, the column does little to explain how the world's most wanted man could live in relative luxury so close to Islamabad.