Pakistan has acknowledged al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden had “support system” in the country, but asserted that the government was unaware of his presence on its soil.
“Obviously, bin Laden did have a support system (in Pakistan). The issue was that support system within the government and the state of Pakistan or within the society of Pakistan,” Pakistan ambassador to U.S. Husain Haqqani said.
“We all know that there are people in Pakistan who share the same belief system as bin Laden and other extremists... So that is a fact, that there are people who probably protected him,” he told CNN.
But, he maintained that Pakistan was unaware of bin Laden’s presence on its soil.
“We did not know. We had no knowledge. And if we had knowledge, we would have acted upon it long ago,” he said.
The envoy said Pakistan government will conduct an inquiry that how its intelligence failed to notice his presence in Islamabad’s proximity.
“We will do a full inquiry into finding out why our intelligence services were not able to track him earlier...Any question about intelligence failure will definitely be addressed by us (Pakistan and U.S.) jointly... We are allies.”
When asked why did not anyone from the ISI or the military go inside bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan’s Abbottabad, which was bigger than all the other houses in the area with a big wall around it, Mr. Haqqani said, “you can’t do that in Pakistan, where there are many houses which are larger than others and unless and until you have due cause.”
Mr. Haqqani said that if Pakistan knew about bin Laden’s presence, actions for his arrest would have been taken.
“If the Pakistani government had known that Osama bin Laden was there, we would have got him, like we got Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (a 9/11 mastermind), like we got Ramzi bin al-Shibh, like we got many others.”
“All the major personnel, al Qaeda personalities currently in Guantanamo, were arrested by Pakistani authorities in cooperation with the United States. So if we really had known where bin Laden was, we would’ve got him,” he said.
The envoy said Pakistan is “very glad” that U.S. did it.
“They had superior intelligence, they had superior technology and we are grateful to them and to God for having given us this opportunity to bring this chapter to an end.”