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Time For Denial Is Over, Says Pak Media

Islamabad, May 3: "Even in death, Osama haunts Pakistan," screamed a headline in Pakistani media which termed the US surgical strike deep inside the country killing Osama bin Laden was "something of an embarrassment" and
PTI May 03, 2011 16:52 IST

Islamabad, May 3: "Even in death, Osama haunts Pakistan," screamed a headline in Pakistani media which termed the US surgical strike deep inside the country killing Osama bin Laden was "something of an embarrassment" and said the "time for denial is over".

The newspapers, which carried bin Laden's death in front pages, highlighted the lack of clarity about Pakistan military's role in the US raid, a day after Al Qaida chief was gunned down in a helicopter-borne operation 800 metres away from the Pakistan Military Academy near Abbottabad.

"Even in death, Osama haunts Pakistan," said the banner headline in The Express Tribune, while the Business Recorder headlined its report "Liquidated".

In their editorials, the dailies called on the country to reflect on issues raised by the dramatic pre-dawn swoop by US forces on a large compound near the garrison city of Abbottabad that killed bin Laden, whose presence in Pakistan had been denied for years by the country's top leadership.

The US raid in Abbottabad had raised "a slew of questions about the level of cooperation with Pakistani intelligence and the military", the Dawn said.

"Were they taken into confidence? If so, at what point? Were they consulted or simply informed? Did they play a role in the operation?" the newspaper questioned.

"As for Pakistan, the time for denial is over. Osama bin Laden was not holed up in a cave in the tribal agencies. He was living in a large house surrounded by high walls topped with barbed wire in a garrison town housing a military academy," the editorial said.

"The idea that the world's most wanted criminal was spending his days there unnoticed by Pakistani intelligence requires either suspension of disbelief or the conclusion that the authorities are guilty of a massive intelligence failure. Both hypotheses are disturbing," it concluded.

The News daily said in an editorial titled "The fall of Osama" that certainly, "the astonishing manner in which the operation that resulted in bin Laden's death...leaves us all gasping in astonishment,"

The newspaper said Pakistan's failure to detect the "presence of the world's most wanted man here is shocking" and noted there was "lack of clarity as to what role, if any, our security and intelligence apparatus played in the whole affair".

"Many questions still hang in the air...For Islamabad, the whole business is something of an embarrassment. Despite years of fervent denial, bin Laden has been found on Pakistani soil. And now that the brazen US action in Abbottabad has happened, there may be other attempts to go after key militant figures in different urban centres," The News said.

The Express Tribune, in its editorial "Osama bin Laden and after", noted that the US had reportedly not told Pakistan of the identity of the "high value" target till just before the operation in Abbottabad began.

"If all of this is true - and it really seems fantastical on the face of it that something like this could have happened without Pakistan's tacit or overt approval/assistance - then the obvious question arises that what was Osama bin Laden doing in Abbottabad, a garrison town, in a house that was a stone's throw from the Pakistan Military Academy."

It questioned how the Al Qaida chief's presence was not detected by Pakistani intelligence agencies, especially as Abbottabad "is not some remote, relatively inaccessible location" in the tribal areas.

It also noted that Abbottabad is close to Mansehra "where, right after the Mumbai attacks, a training camp run ostensibly by the Lashkar-e-Taiba was shut down by the Pakistani authorities".

The Tribune said many questions would be asked about bin Laden being present in the country.

"In all of this, one thing is clear: Pakistan should have hunted the man down on its own, because America is not the only country that has suffered at the hands of Al Qaida and its allied jihadi outfits," it said.

The influential Dawn newspaper, in its editorial, said an era had ended with the killing of bin Laden, whose 9/11 terror attacks in the US had "transformed Pakistan and Afghanistan, dragging them into ideological divides and violence". PTI