Pakistan displays competing interests as it answers questions on bin Laden raid
Although it gave a heated defense of its commitment to fighting terrorism, Pakistan is now more focused on convincing the Pakistani public that it can stand up to the US.
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The US wants assurances that it has a trustworthy partner in the fight against terrorism, while the Pakistani public wants to know that its government will protect their sovereignty. The line that the Pakistani government must walk was evident this week as details unfolded into the raid that killed Mr. bin Laden at his secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Initially, Pakistan defended its military and intelligence agency against accusations that they were aware of bin Laden’s whereabouts.
In a Washington Post Op-Ed, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said, "Some in the US press have suggested that Pakistan lacked vitality in its pursuit of terrorism, or worse yet that we were disingenuous and actually protected the terrorists we claimed to be pursuing. Such baseless speculation may make exciting cable news, but it doesn’t reflect fact."
Mr. Zardari expressed "satisfaction that our early assistance in identifying an Al Qaeda courier ultimately led to this day."
Indeed, some Pakistani security officials had first described it as a "joint operation."
By midweek, however, Pakistani officials had changed their tone, going from defensive to combative in an apparent bid to quell rising frustration at home just as a Monitor reporter found "pulsing" anti-Americanism in Abbottabad over the US operation.
“This is a shameful incident for us. Our army should have shot down the US choppers,” an Abbottabad resident told Agence France-Presse. The fact that the US operation ended with the capture of bin Laden did not seem to change their minds.