- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 5, 2011

EMBASSY THREATENED

The State Department increased security around the Pakistan Embassy in Northwest Washington this week after Ambassador Husain Haqqani reported threatening phone calls and emails from people angered that Osama bin Laden had been hiding in Pakistan.

“Some people have gone a little crazy,” Mr. Haqqani told Embassy Row on Thursday.

He quoted from one typical email, which read, “You are the scum of the earth.”

Mr. Haqqani said he was shocked to learn that bin Laden had been living in a large compound about two hours north of the capital, Islamabad.

He added that he was first informed that U.S. commandos had flown into Pakistan and killed bin Laden as he was on a flight from Washington to London Sunday night.

“The plane was taxiing when I got a text message,” he said. “I knew what had happened, but I could do nothing.”

Mr. Haqqani, who already was suffering from a spike in his blood pressure before he left Washington, said, “I took a pill and got a few hours sleep.”

He was supposed to have made a connecting flight at London’s Heathrow Airport and to have flown on to Islamabad for what he called “routine consultations.”

But he knew he would be needed back in Washington to answer the inevitable questions about how bin Laden could be living in Pakistan without the knowledge of the government.

He changed plans and caught the next flight back to Washington Dulles International Airport, where he arrived about 5:30 p.m. Monday and headed immediately for CNN for an interview with Wolf Blitzer an hour later.

Mr. Haqqani pledged that his government will launch an investigation into the circumstances that led bin Laden to the compound in Abbottabad, near Pakistan’s main military academy.

“We will get to the bottom of this,” he told Embassy Row. “It was not in Pakistan’s interest to have bin Laden in the country.”

The ambassador said his government is “pleased with the outcome” of the raid that killed the world’s most wanted terrorist but upset over the violation of Pakistan’s airspace.

“This was not in accordance with international law,” he said.

Mr. Haqqani, one of Pakistan’s best diplomats, added that he knows his job now is to “put the U.S.-Pakistani relationship back on an even keel.”

MORE PRESSURE ON PAKISTAN

Pakistan came under more pressure from the United States this week when the U.S. ambassador in India complained about a lack of progress in a trial against seven Pakistanis suspected of the 2008 terrorist attack on the Indian city of Mumbai.

Pakistan needs to do more,” Ambassador Timothy J. Roemer told reporters in New Delhi this week. “They need to show progress on the Mumbai trial.”

Pakistan opened the trial on Oct. 3, 2009, against the defendants accused of plotting to kill or killing 166 people and wounding more than 300 in 10 coordinated attacks over three days in late November 2008.

The defendants are linked to the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group, which operates mainly from Pakistan.

“We continue to encourage Pakistan to show results in the Mumbai trial, to take on Lashkar-e-Taiba and to make sure people like [Rehman] Lakhvi stay in prison,” Mr. Roemer said, referring to the leader of the terrorist group.

The ambassador also warned Pakistan that it is risking losing more than a billion dollars in U.S. aid if Congress concludes that Pakistan is failing to fight terrorism within its borders.

He noted that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, was apprehended in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi in 2003.

“Congress will ask tough questions,” the ambassador said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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