So, was all the stomping and crying by Pakistan nothing but face-saving?:
The US and Pakistan struck a secret deal almost a decade ago permitting a US operation against Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil similar to last week’s raid that killed the al-Qaida leader, the Guardian has learned.
The deal was struck between the military leader General Pervez Musharraf and President George Bush after Bin Laden escaped US forces in the mountains of Tora Bora in late 2001, according to serving and retired Pakistani and US officials.
Under its terms, Pakistan would allow US forces to conduct a unilateral raid inside Pakistan in search of Bin Laden, his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the al-Qaida No3. Afterwards, both sides agreed, Pakistan would vociferously protest the incursion.
“There was an agreement between Bush and Musharraf that if we knew where Osama was, we were going to come and get him,” said a former senior US official with knowledge of counterterrorism operations. “The Pakistanis would put up a hue and cry, but they wouldn’t stop us.”
The deal puts a new complexion on the political storm triggered by Bin Laden’s death in Abbottabad, 35 miles north of Islamabad, where a team of US navy Seals assaulted his safe house in the early hours of 2 May.
Pakistani officials have insisted they knew nothing of the raid, with military and civilian leaders issuing a strong rebuke to the US. If the US conducts another such assault, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani warned parliament on Monday, “Pakistan reserves the right to retaliate with full force.”
Days earlier, Musharraf, now running an opposition party from exile in London, emerged as one of the most vocal critics of the raid, terming it a “violation of the sovereignty of Pakistan”.
But under the terms of the secret deal, while Pakistanis may not have been informed of the assault, they had agreed to it in principle.
A senior Pakistani official said it had been struck under Musharraf and renewed by the army during the “transition to democracy” – a six-month period from February 2008 when Musharraf was still president but a civilian government had been elected.
Referring to the assault on Bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound, the official added: “As far as our American friends are concerned, they have just implemented the agreement.”
The former US official said the Pakistani protests of the past week were the “public face” of the deal. “We knew they would deny this stuff.”
Pakistan denies that any agreement ever took place, verbal or written. The truth or more face-saving?Tweet