Ever since al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was tracked down and killed by the United States forces way back in 2011, Pakistan had maintained that it had no knowledge about the presence of the terrorist on its soil.
However, current Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has spilled the beans on his country’s role in the operation that led to the elimination of the world’s most dreaded terrorist.
Khan, who is on a bilateral visit to the United States, told a US news outlet that his country’s intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), had passed on information to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that helped track down Osama.
Khan said, during an interview, that the ISI had provided the initial location through a phone connection to the US intelligence agency. He was responding to a question on whether Islamabad would release jailed Pakistani doctor Shakeel Afridi, who played a key role in the tracking down of Osama.
Osama was eliminated in Abbottabad, a garrison town situation close to Islamabad, on May 2, 2011, in a secret operation conducted by the US Navy SEALs.
“It was ISI that gave the information which led to the location of Osama bin Laden. If you ask CIA, it was ISI which gave the initial location through the phone connection,” the Pakistan PM said.
He did not say anything concrete on the release of Afridi. US President Donald Trump has made a call for the release of the Pakistani doctor.
Khan told the interviewer that Afridi’s issue is considered an “emotive” one in Pakistan as he was a US spy. “We in Pakistan always felt that we were an ally of the US and if we had been given the information about Osama, we should have taken him out,” Khan said.
He pointed out that his country, Pakistan, had been helping in the US war against terrorism. The US raid to take out Osama had “hugely embarrassed Pakistan”, he said.
“Here, we were an ally of the US and the US did not trust us. And they actually came and bombed and killed a man in our territory,” Khan said. “We were fighting this war for the US and we lost all these people fighting this war. So there was obviously a lot of anger about the way this whole thing was done. But you know, that’s all in the past,” he added.