by Fareed Zakaria, CNN
Many of you have been asking through my Facebook and Twitter accounts something that Anderson Cooper asked me as well on AC360: How is it possible that the U.S. conducted a raid, which went on for some 38 minutes, very close to a military college, without the Pakistani military responding? The implication here is that surely the Pakistanis knew about the raid but didn't want to admit it. Here are my thoughts:
My gut is that the U.S. did not tell the Pakistanis. Here's why: In 1998, when Bill Clinton wanted to fire missiles on bin Laden, the missiles hit empty tents. The 9/11 Commission report tells you why those tents were empty. It was because the Pakistani military had tipped of a group that tipped off bin Laden. The U.S. government has long experience that tells them do not tell the Pakistanis if you want this to stay quiet.
It's possible the answer to the puzzle that many of you have raised, which is real, is that as the operation began, the U.S. told the Pakistani military, “There's something going on in Abbottabad. Don't worry. We're on top of that.”
The Pakistani military is in a dilemma more broadly. It has to explain either that it's highly duplicitous or highly incompetent. Either they're covering for bin Laden, or they're so incompetent they didn’t know.
When we talk about the Pakistani military, it's probably not General Kayani and General Pasha, the heads of the military and ISI, that know anything. But there's a logistical supply chain that allowed bin Laden to survive and thrive and build this huge compound. Elements of the Pakistani military are involved in that, and I think the higher-ups probably have a kind of don't ask, don't tell policy.
Osama bin Laden was living in a particularly weird place because it has no telephone lines into it but it's eight times larger than every other house in the area.
So, as Anderson and many of you have asked, does something need to change in America’s relationship with Pakistan?
This is the biggest strategic dilemma we face because the United States tried to excommunicate Pakistan in the 1990s for a bunch of different reasons. The result was the military got more radical; it got more isolated and it went into the arms of the jihadists.
Now, the U.S. trying to hug Pakistan and the embrace this isn't working perfectly either.
Probably the better strategy is maintaining some contact with them.
But the ultimate test is: Does Pakistan want to become a modern society? Because all this dealings with militant groups, all this attempt to gain strategic depth in Afghanistan, it's meaningless. What they should be trying to do is raise the living standards of Pakistanis. Next door, India is growing almost 10 percent a year.