Washington, May 18 : The United States has humiliated Pakistan by carrying out with impunity its covert operation in Abbottabad that killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, Defence Secretary Robert Gates said today.
“If I were in Pakistani shoes, I would say I've already paid a price (for terrorist safe havens). I've been humiliated. I've been shown that the Americans can come in here and do this with impunity. I think we have to recognize that they see a cost in that and a price that has been paid,” Gates told reporters at a Pentagon news conference.
Stating that he hasn't seen any evidence so far that indicates that top Pakistani leadership knew about the presence of bin Laden in the country, Gates said that his assumption is that somebody in Pakistan knew about it, which is being investigated by the United States right now.
“I mean, the supposition is somebody. We don't know whether it was, you know, a retired people, whether it was low-level. Pure supposition on our part. It's hard to go to them with an accusation when we have no proof that anybody knew. I think it's a supposition shared by a number in this government that somebody had to know, but we have no idea who and we have no proof or no evidence,” Gates said.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen said that one should not underestimate the humiliating experience of Pakistan after the bin Laden operation.
“I don't think we should underestimate the humbling experience that this is. In fact, the internal soul-searching that's going on inside the Pak military right now and the impact of that, before you even start to talk about external effects,” he said.
Mullen has been in constant contact with the Pakistani leadership in particular its Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani. In the past two years, he has travelled to Pakistan at least two dozen times.
“It's internally, and I just know for a fact that is going on, and they're not through that, because they've been through a lot tied to this, and their image has been tarnished. And they care, as we all do, and they care a lot about that. They're a very proud military,” Mullen said echoing Gates at the joint news conference.
Mullen said the US needs to give Pakistan some time and space to work on some of the internal challenges that came out of this, while at the same time the things that there are some near-term things that we think actions need to be taken.