May 7th, 2011
11:12 AM ET

Unlikely that Pakistan knew about U.S. raid

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.

Those are my thoughts. Please send me your thoughts and questions through Facebook and Twitter and I’ll answer them throughout the week here on the Global Public Square.

Post by:
Topics: Military • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan • Reader Q&A

soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. Jeff B.

    Lou Pruneda – REALLY ?
    Sooo, this entire mess is due to the establishment of the modern state of Israel ? really ?
    So, when you hear of islamic terror in China, Japan, Russia...it's all because of Israel ? Surely you jest.
    Perhaps you dont know the U.S. Marines' theme song "From the hills of montezuma to the shores of Triploi"? Did you know that the Marines' first foreign missions were to eradicate islamic piracy in the 1780's ?
    Simpltons like you blame Israel and Bush for all the world's ills.

    May 9, 2011 at 11:02 am | Reply
  2. Ed, Spring TX

    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. We should stay in Pakistan but recogize them for what they are.

    May 9, 2011 at 11:04 am | Reply
  3. Count of MonteCristo

    Everybody is wrong. Give Pakistan credit. They brought OBL to Abbotabad house. So they can keep an eye on him. He was under house arrest. Due to sensitivity Pakistan did not get involve in catching the prize. Let US seals take credit, they stayed in background.

    May 9, 2011 at 11:06 am | Reply
  4. Mike

    The simplest way to explain the failure of Pakistan's military to detect the U.S. raid is that they have come to believe their own press releases. They are perfect, so perfect that nobody, not even the U.S., can touch them. After years of funding the Taliban and providing them safe havens in Pakistan, all using money provided by the U.S., the Pakistani Army made classic military mistake, they dismissed the possibility that the U.S. might be willing and able to act. In any event the Army has nothing to fear, they already run the country (including banks and bakeries) and can replace the civilian puppet government or return to direct military rule in a heartbeat.

    May 9, 2011 at 11:33 am | Reply
    • Tell the whole story

      Are we forgetting the fact that we've been sending drones into their pitiful little country for years?

      May 10, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Reply
  5. dc

    Actually this question has already been answered in OTHER STORIES ON CNN. The Pak air force was responding to the helicopters when they receieved word from Americans that we were engaged in a raid on a priority target. The Pak air force switched mode to outer perimeter defense of the airspace. There is some sort of coding/signal we use with them, which is what was done in this case.

    May 9, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Reply
  6. Scott

    Seems to me that with Osama living that close to a military college, Pakistan would also have to know he was there. I find it hard to believe otherwise. Its apparent to me that Pakistan is playing both sides of the fence: keep the US and it's monies coming in in an attempt to appear as though its fighting the war on terrorism while in effect doing very little. I say pull all of the monies out of Pakistan for one year and put it to use here at home! Let's see just how much they rely on the United States.

    May 9, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Reply
  7. OpinionIndia

    @Sayem

    you cannot run away from the truth that terror plots mostly have a DIRECT OR INDIRECT PAKISTANI CONNECTION

    Like David Headly ( Expat PAKISTANI American caught as conspirator of Mumbai attacks by the FBI ) and Tawahhur Hussain Rana (( Expat PAKISTANI Canadian caught as conspirator of Mumbai attacks by the FBI )

    sept 11 – Khalid sheikh mohammad and Bin laden found sanctuary in Pakistan
    and latest TIME SQUARE BOMB PLOT WAS HATCHED BY FAIAL SHEIKH (EXPAT PAKISTANI )

    PAKISTAN = HUB OF TERROR

    May 9, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Reply
  8. SammyZ

    Please don't believe all Fared Zakria says. He normally doesn’t have good things to say about Pakistan and Middle East.

    In 1998, there was no cooperation between the US and ISI and Pakistan was under Pressler amendment meaning no military aid/arms sales because of its nuclear program. In fact, 50 0r so F 16's Pakistan had paid for were getting rotten in some warehouse somewhere on the US bases because of the arms embargo. Therefore, there is no way of ISI tipping Osama and his accomplices. The Pakistanis had no clue about missile attack. Also, the missiles fired hit a terrorist training camp of Osama and empty tents as Zakaria claims and several people (basically terrorists in training) were killed and injured in the attack.

    Lastly, the camp was actually established by the CIA to train 'mujhadeen' who later turned their guns on the US and its interests and became terrorists. This was a results of hastily US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Facts should always be distinguished from fiction.

    May 9, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Reply
    • utran

      Zakaria is Indain by root..so why he would speak in favor of Pakistan???

      May 11, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Reply
  9. Coriolana

    And the Easter Bunny craps jelly beans...

    May 10, 2011 at 10:53 am | Reply
  10. Ralph in Orange Park, FL

    Given that the Seals found Osama bin Laden, and not an ambush, unlikely indeed.

    May 10, 2011 at 11:19 am | Reply
  11. Dale

    Who gives a rip about Pakistan, India isn't afraid
    of Pakistan. India
    Grows at 10 percent
    Pakistan 1-2 percent. India has more nuclear missiles ans they are better.

    May 10, 2011 at 11:29 am | Reply
    • Syed

      If you say so mr. chirag patel

      May 10, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Reply
    • utran

      Yeah..thats why Indian don't Mess with Pakistan..

      May 11, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Reply
  12. Syed

    The biggest problem with Pakistan is its location. There is just way too much outside influence. Corrupt politicians don't help either

    May 10, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Reply
    • Sarah

      Sure – blame it on location – next time blame it on weather. obviously, accepting responsibility is not cards.

      May 10, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Reply
      • Syed

        Look at the map of Pakistan and maybe you will get what I am talking about. Plus don't forget the US interest in the region. Maybe I am asking too much

        May 10, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • OpinionIndia

      Location is not the problem, but Pakistani society built for only MUSLIMS is the problem.It breeds religious divide,conflict with India, inspires causes for terrorism, fosters divide with the west;

      Liquidation of an ISLAMIC STATE of PAKISTAN in south asia and making it secular will bring PEACE :) and Muslims should learn to live in secular societies

      May 10, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Reply
      • Bigjohn

        Opinionindia you are a moron!

        May 10, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
  13. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    Mr. Zakaria says: "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."

    If that was the case WHY DID THE US NOT TELL JUST THE TOP BRASS Kayani, Pasha, Gilanai and Zardari?

    THE FACT IS THE US RIGHTLY DOES NOT ANY PAKISTANI OR EVEN MUSLIMS IN SUCH ISSUES................PERIOD!

    "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."

    REALLY MR. ZAKARIA? Even though you do come out and bash the Pakistanis often, you are STILL VERY GUARDED IN OFFENDING YOUR CO-RELIGIONISTS TOO MUCH Mr. ZAKARIA......That's the fact and NO WONDER MOST AMERICANS DON'T TRUST ANY MUSLIM ON MUSLIM ISSUES.

    US-pak issue just as the Indo-Pak issue has as much to do with RELIGION as politics. You are NEVER HELPFUL in bridging the RELIGIOUS DIVIDE Mr. ZAKARIA!

    Amit-Atlanta-USA

    May 10, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Reply
  14. OpinionIndia

    @Bigjohn is a Paki moron hiding behind a Christian name!

    May 11, 2011 at 3:40 am | Reply
    • Amit-Atlanta-USA

      OpinionIndia:

      There are far too many Pakistanis in these columns pretending to be liberal Christian Americans. Many even claim to be ex-US marines who were deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, (or had a brother/sister/parent deployed there), were disgusted with the oppressive US policies there, and were overwhelmed by the love of those peoples etc.etc.

      Anybody with little common sense can see through such people.

      Amit-Atlanta-USA

      May 11, 2011 at 9:55 am | Reply
  15. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    HERE's THE GREATEST PROOF OF PAKISTANIS SUBSCRIBING TO PAKISTANI THEORIES......TRULY A MUST WATCH VIDEO!!!

    Watch fmr. Pakistan Intelligence chief Gen. Hamid Gul GOING BACK & FORTH REPEATEDLY on Osama's death.

    a) First he says he believes Bin Laden died a few days ago, and also quotes the statement of OBL's third wife.

    b) Then he says it was all a drama, and that he had died several years ago!

    If this is what HIGHLY EDUCATED PAKISTANI TOP BRASS believes in, one can only imagine what lesser mortals in Pakistan believe in!!!!!!!!!!! GOD SAVE PAKISTAN!

    http://inthearena.blogs.cnn.com/category/hamid-gul/

    Amit-Atlanta-USA

    May 11, 2011 at 9:49 am | Reply
  16. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    AMERICA BEWARE!!!!!

    RATHER THAN ADMIT COMPLICITY IN HIDING OBL, AND GIVING UP OTHER TERRORIST LDRS. MULLAH OMAR, AND AYMAN ZAWAHARI, PAKISTAN IS BUSY WARNING THE US OF EVEN NUCLEAR WAR IF WE TRIED ANY SUCH MIS-ADVENTURE AGAIN,

    AND.....

    PAKISTAN IS BUSY ASSEMBLING A ANTI-US COALITION WITH CHINA (PM Gilani is now on a 4 day visit to China) and RUSSIA (Pres. Zardari is leaving to Russia today), and OFCOURSE ALL THE MUSLIM COUNTRIES (OIC).

    As I have said repeatedly in these columns THIS UGLY ISLAMIC TERROR WAR WILL NEVER END, UNTIL & UNLESS WE DISMEMBER PAK, SIEZE THEIR NUCLEAR WEAPONS, AND STOP THE THREAT OF THEIR DIASPORA IN THE WEST BY STOPPING THE INFLOW OF UNADAPTABLE MUSLIM IMMIGRANTS INTO THE WEST................NOTHING ELSE WILL WORK.........PERIOD!

    The greatest danger from the Pakistani Islamic bomb is to America, Europe, Israel and much less to India. We all should join together to end this menace once & for all.

    The Time to act is now, before a Pakistani provided Nuclear bomb explodes over one of our cities. That day is surely not too far off, or far fetched as the CIA & FBI only know too well. The only question is when?

    Amit-Atlanta-USA

    May 11, 2011 at 10:18 am | Reply
    • Amit-Atlanta-USA

      Just wanted to add two more points:

      Immeditaley stop all aid

      Declare Pakistan a TERRORIST state

      May 11, 2011 at 10:29 am | Reply
    • utran

      Typical Indian mind!!

      May 11, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Reply
  17. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    Pakistani PM GILANI – “BLAME MUST BE SHARED BY “ALL THE INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES OF THE WORLD”. That will strike many as a bit rich, given that the Al Qaeda chief was found not in Abbottstown, PA, or in Abbotsbury in Dorset, but in Abbottabad, little more than the proverbial stone’s throw from Pakistan’s pre-eminent military academy.”

    Dawn story – “EXCUSE US, WE KNEW NOTHING” by Mahir Ali

    http://www.dawn.com/2011/05/11/excuse-us-we-knew-nothing.html

    Amit-Atlanta-USA

    May 11, 2011 at 10:40 am | Reply
  18. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    Kamran Shafi – Ex-Pakistani Major and one of their leading columnists writing in Dawn- Story Title “Clean Bowled”

    Check out the Pakistani complicity and also how our aid is being mis-used on things like top of the line BMWs and Mercs that our own military top brass can’t even dream of!

    “SO WRAPPED UP IN THEIR (PAKISTANI MILITARY) OWN ARROGANCE; SO COMFORTABLE IN THEIR MANSIONS AND MADE-TO-ORDER TOP-OF-THE-LINE MERCEDES AND 7-SERIES BMWS, and secure in the knowledge that they had at least four plots of land in choice housing colonies carved out of military lands were they that the warning sounded by fellow Pakistanis who have also seen some of the world mattered not a whit to them. NO, THEY KNEW IT ALL.”!!!

    http://www.dawn.com/2011/05/10/clean-bowled.html

    Amit-Atlanta-USA

    May 11, 2011 at 11:11 am | Reply
  19. OpinionIndia

    @Amit-Atlanta-USA

    Many Pakistanis in this blog are hiding under a Christian,Bangladeshi or Indian names.Many Pakistanis have a legacy of pretending like Indians in the west, perhaps being called a Pakistani brings them infamy now after so many terror plots to their credit have surfaced

    May 11, 2011 at 11:18 am | Reply
  20. OpinionIndia

    To Pakistanis who bring up Kashmir to deceive the world and hide all blame,here is the truth

    Lets GIVE BALOCHISTANIS a chance for vote to decidde if they wanna continue to be part of Pakistan ( A failed state that discriminated agaInst Bengalis and now Balochis )

    BALOCHISTAN WANTS PLEBISCITE AND FREEDOM FROM PAKISTAN.Pakistan stop discriminating against people of Balochistan where they do not get revenue spent on their development after their mineral wealth is eaten away by Pakistani state.

    FREEDOM FOR BALOCHISTAN.

    May 11, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Reply
    • Amit-Atlanta-USA

      OpinionIndia:

      I posted your resp & also the following on another CNN discussion (link below):

      http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2011/05/10/zakaria-draw-down-u-s-troops-in-afghanistan/#comment-25629

      I reproduce below another response from a Pakistani friend on Kashmir UN resolution calling for plebiscite in all of Kashmir. India was OK with that. But, Pakistan wanted plebiscite ONLY in Indian held Kashmir after they siezed 2/3rds of Kashmir from India, and scared that Kashmiris will chose to stay with India!

      http://www.dawn.com/2011/05/05/dead-man-and-the-sea.html/comment-page-3#comments

      Bashir says:
      May 6, 2011 (6 days ago) at 4:58 pm
      NFP in particular and Dawn in general are two of few exceptions. I am afraid the Dawn policy does not permit me to give names of some of the other online newspapers that exhibit some of the most atrocious standards of journalism that ignore or distort facts that can be easily established by cursory internet searches. As an example, going to the mother of all causes, no newspaper in Pakistan dares to publish United Nations Security Council Resolution 47 (1948), particularly Clause 1, about Kashmir.

      Check out:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Security_Council_Resolution_47

      Amit-Atlanta-USA

      May 11, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Reply

      Amit-Atlanta-USA

      May 12, 2011 at 8:20 am | Reply
      • OpinionIndia

        @Amit-Atlanta-USA

        Good work, India has 2/3 rd of Kashmir and one day we will have full of it as nothing can stand in front of the Idea of India and its secularism :)..we will not allow Pakis to sell Kashmir to China as they have done in the past.

        May 12, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  21. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    WANT TO READ THE GREATEST OF PAKISTANI CONSPIRACY THEORIES – MANY FROM HIGHLY EDUCATED PAKISTANI AMERICANS, AND EX-PAKISTANI GENERALS (Yes, GENERALS!!!!)......TRULY ENTERTAINING!!!!!

    Check out:

    http://www.opinion-maker.org/category/hot-topics/

    Amit-Atlanta-USA

    May 11, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Reply
    • OpinionIndia

      @Amit-Atlanta-USA
      I want to respond to Pakistani Muslims who always draw parallel between Palestine and Kashmir and try to project Americans ,Jews and Hindus as "bad guys".Here is my response

      Running after Americans and Jews is Bigorty , Pakistani fanatics..because The state of Israel has the right to exist as Jews have lived there for thousands of years.4000 years ago there was the kingdom of Judah before they were expelled and right of the Jews to the holy land CANNOT AND WILL NOT BE DENIED.

      Kashmir has been the part of Hindu culture and our scriptures time immemorial talk about it and we have our holy shrines there .It is our Land and so is todays Pakistan .The right of India over Kashmir does not stretch back up-to only Partition.Kashmir has been a part and parcel of our social fabric,culture.The right of India and Hindus in Kashmir with Historical basis in the last 5000 years is grounded in facts and it CANNOT AND WILL NOT BE DENIED.

      Yet India wants equal rights and SECULARISM in Kashmir as opposed to Jihad , oppression and terror Camps in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

      May 12, 2011 at 10:25 am | Reply
  22. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    MUST WATCH VIDEO

    CNN's Wolf Blitzer REPEATEDLY GRILLS Pak PM Gilani on Osama Bin Laden's whereabouts. Gilani CATEGORICALLY states that OBL is NOT in Pak as the Pakistan military is on top of things and would have easily found out!

    Check out their exchange here:

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDOv9C8j1F4&w=640&h=390]

    Amit-Atlanta-USA

    May 12, 2011 at 10:26 am | Reply
  23. OpinionIndia

    To defensive Pakistanis

    we know you sympathize with Pakistans ISI and rogue Army

    If you are so much defensive about Pakistan's role( which is dishonest and worthy of shame) then stop accepting AID from US and return the 20 billion $ aid you have so far received ..:)

    May 12, 2011 at 10:48 am | Reply
  24. OpinionIndia

    Now Pakistanis usually address Indians as "Hindu" and call us extremist, we don't blow up markets like you( your citizens, Pakistanis ) :)

    we don't sail from Karachi to Mumbai and go on a shooting rampage unlike you(Pakistanis) :)

    we are not implicated from the west as Non resident Pakistanis in Mumbai terror plot unlike "Muslim Pakistani " HUSSAIN RANA

    we are not implicated from the west as Non resident Pakistanis in Mumbai terror plot unlike "Muslim Pakistani " david headley ( changed his muslim pakistani name to a western name :) )

    we are not caught plotting the TIME SQUARE BOMB PLOT :)

    WE ARE NOT CAUGHT SHELTERING BINLADEN FOR 5 YEARS :)

    WE ARE NOT SHELTERING MUMBAI ATTACK MASTER MINDS ( ISI CHIEF PASHA), HAFEEZ SAEED

    WE are not giving guest visa to DAWOOD IBRAHIM (Terrorist WANTED BY US and India)

    we are not implicated from the west as Non resident Pakistanis in Danish terror plot

    Extremism is Rampant in PAKISTAN , NOT India which is secular and tolerant

    PAKISTAN SHAME SHAME :)

    GOD What a MENACE this country ( Pakistan ) has become to the WORLD !!! :)

    May 13, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Reply
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    August 9, 2011 at 5:38 am | Reply
  26. Cheap Yankee Candles

    Some useful bits of information here, thanks very much!

    April 18, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Reply
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