A prominent Indian opposition leader said Thursday that senior Pakistani leaders must have known of Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts before the U.S. Navy SEAL operation last month that killed the al Qaeda leader in a military town outside Islamabad.
Arun Jaitley, who leads the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India’s upper house of parliament, told The Washington Times that the terrorist mastermind’s extended stay in Abottabod — the Pakistani equivalent of West Point — suggested that he had not only a local support system but also the blessing of national leaders.
“The fact that he’s in a garrison town in Pakistan so close to the capital itself obviously can’t be without the knowledge and acquiescence of some relevant people in the establishment,” Mr. Jaitley said.
The BJP leader declined to name particular officials and said he was not aware “whether some knew or all knew.” But he mocked “the whole defense that is not complicity, it is incompetence.”
Pakistan last week detained more than 30 people, including five CIA informants, for questioning as part of its bin Laden probe. Islamabad has denied that bin Laden received state support but has acknowledged that rogue elements within its intelligence service could have helped him.
“The distinction between the state and the non-state players is getting gradually obliterated,” he said.
“They seem to be suggesting that the only course open to them is engagement,” he said. “I’ve been suggesting to them that if they’ve chosen the course of engagement, they should at least be realizing that engagement can bring results only if Pakistan decides on what future course it is to adopt.”
“I don’t think anybody is sure of the direction Pakistan is going to take,” he added. “People are watching the situation with their fingers crossed.”
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Ben Birnbaum is a reporter covering foreign affairs for The Washington Times. Prior to joining The Times, Birnbaum worked as a reporter-researcher at the New Republic. A Boston-area native, he graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a degree in government and psychology. He won multiple collegiate journalism awards for his articles and columns in the Cornell Daily Sun.
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