Christopher Hitchens is coming out and saying what most writers and officials have only been hinting at: the Pakistani military knew that Osama bin Laden was hiding in that neighbourhood in Abbottabad. These upscale areas of towns like Abbottabad are considered some sort of vacation spot for Pakistani military officers, apparently. This is common knowledge in the region, as evidenced by The Times of India‘s unrelenting focus on the government of Pakistan’s apparent complicity.
From the Hitchens article:
If you tell me that you are staying in a rather nice walled compound in Abbottabad, I can tell you in return that you are the honored guest of a military establishment that annually consumes several billion dollars of American aid.
Hitchens takes it as “smoking-gun proof of official Pakistani complicity with al-Qaida”.
From the BBC:
Farzana Shaikh, Royal Institute of International Affairs: ”Many people around the world are going to find their worst suspicions confirmed — that there has been, right from the outset, complicity on the part of the Pakistani state in aiding and abetting Osama bin Laden.”
The Times of India is also reporting that Obama may stop aid to Pakistan over the bin Laden incident, an example of India’s ongoing attempts to draw attention to the problems of the US co-operating with the Pakistani government. The Times claims no sources close to the US administration, but the annual $1b in aid the Americans have been giving Pakistan was ostensibly for counter-terrorism operations (all relating to bin Laden and Al Qaeda).
It seems fairly unlikely that the Obama administration will take a harder line with Pakistan when their utmost goal should be extracting US forces from Afghanistan without leaving disorder in the region. Pakistan’s government prevents a dangerous power vacuum next to Afghanistan, and has been exceptionally cooperative for a conservative Islamic state where anti-American sentiment is rife. That said, the decision regarding whether US-Pakistan cooperation will decrease, increase or remain constant will be interesting and open to much speculation.