Washington, May 4: Obama administration officials have demanded that Pakistan quickly provide answers to specific questions about Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and his years-long residence in a Pakistani city surrounded by military installations.
In addition to detailed information about the bin Laden compound, Pakistani officials were asked in meetings with US military, intelligence and diplomatic interlocutors to provide names of witnesses who can testify about visitors to the compound, The Washington Post reports.
The Saudi-born terrorist, who had evaded capture for a decade, was killed Sunday night in a top secret operation involving a small team of US Special Forces in Abbottabad city, located 50 kilometres northeast of Islamabad and 150 kilometres east of Peshawar.
US lawmakers said it defied logic that bin Laden was able to hide in plain sight without some level of official Pakistani knowledge or complicity.
Some even suggested that three billion dollars in annual US military and economic assistance be reconsidered, while others joined with House Speaker John A. Boehner, who said: "This is no time to back away from Pakistan."
In a series of television interviews, White House counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan said that Pakistani officials were trying to determine "whether there were individuals within the Pakistani government or military intelligence services who were knowledgeable" of bin Laden's whereabouts.
US intelligence has for years been amassing evidence of Pakistan's complicity with the Afghan Taliban, while remaining uncertain how high it went within military and intelligence structures, the report said.
Since the bin Laden raid, officials have said that wealthy individuals who shared al-Qaeda's extreme Islamist and anti-American views and supported his movement, along with sympathetic elements of retired and possibly active-duty military and intelligence officials, likely knew that someone important lived in the compound, the report added.
"The key question is just the due diligence. What was done? How could they not know? Who knew what? Did nobody have some questions about who the hell was living behind those walls?" Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator John Kerry said in an interview, referring to Pakistan's military and intelligence services.
"They've got to get right at this, and sit down pretty soon there and figure it out, because there are people in Congress and others who won't care about the details here," added Kerry.
Boehner, who visited Pakistan last month, said the White House needs to have an "eyeballs-to-eyeballs" conversation about what the two sides expect of each other," even as he noted that the relationship with Pakistan "is critical to breaking the back of al-Qaeda and the rest of them."
Meanwhile, a senior official in Zardari's government said that the Obama administration "is saying they really want answers. They are also saying, `This is an opportunity - we don't want to beat up on you. If you can cooperate right now, let's enhance our partnership, and find opportunities for us to work closely on the endgame in Afghanistan. But stop playing games'." (ANI)