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Former president Zardari called killing of Osama bin Laden "Good News", reveals Barack Obama

  • Former American president says despite realizing the fact that the operation violated the sovereignty of Pakistan, he instructed the US Army to strike al-Qaeda leader in Abbottabad
Published November 18, 2020

(Karachi) Former US president Barack Obama has transpired that he did not take the Government of Pakistan on board regarding the operation against Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad during the 2011 raid, an article published in Dawn stated.

Obama penned down a detailed account of the raid carried out by US troops in Laden's compound in his book titled “A Promised Land” which was released on November 17.

The former American president stated that despite realizing the fact that Osama bin Laden was the most-wanted and high profile al-Qaeda terrorist, he instructed the US Army to take him out. He said the move violated the sovereignty of Pakistan but the action was necessary as he could have escaped.

“Whatever we chose to do in Abbottabad, then, would involve violating the territory of a putative ally in the most egregious way possible, short of war- raising both the diplomatic stakes and the operational complexities,” he wrote in the book.

Obama mentioned that the then vice-president Joe Biden and his defence secretary Robert Gates did not support his decision to launch a strike on Laden's compound.

He wrote that after the successful killing of the top al-Qaeda leader, he called several world leaders to inform them about the major development. He also phoned the then president of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari, who "showed genuine emotion.

"Zardari showed genuine emotion, recalling how his wife, Benazir Bhutto, had been killed by extremists with reported ties to Al Qaeda,” Obama wrote.

“I expected my most difficult call to be with Pakistan’s beleaguered president, Asif Ali Zardari, who would surely face a backlash at home over our violation of Pakistani sovereignty,” he stated in the book. “When I reached him, however, he expressed congratulations and support. ‘Whatever the fallout,' he said, ‘it’s very good news'."

He said apart from Zardari, the US officials also called the then army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani who requested the United States to come clean about the raid so that the Pakistani public's reaction could be managed.

Obama further wrote that he preferred not involving the Pakistani government in the raid because he believed certain elements inside the country maintained links to the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

“Based on what I’d heard, I decided we had enough information to begin developing options for an attack on the compound. While the CIA team continued to work on identifying the Pacer, I asked Tom Donilon and John Brennan to explore what a raid would look like,” he wrote.

“The need for secrecy added to the challenge; if even the slightest hint of our lead on bin Laden leaked, we knew our opportunity would be lost. As a result, only a handful of people across the entire federal government were read into the planning phase of the operation."

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