May 22, 2019

Gates says Bin Laden raid a major humiliation for Pakistan

The US did humiliate Pakistan, but they didn't have a lot of choice. Knowing who you can trust is a big issue in that part of the world.

US Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates says the “ability of the United States to enter Pakistan, kill Osama bin Laden and leave without detection was a humiliation to Pakistanis.”

Gates along with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, insist there is no evidence that Pakistan’s senior leadership knew of the bin Laden compound in Abbottabad.

“If I were in Pakistani shoes, I would say I’ve already paid a price. I’ve been humiliated. I’ve been shown that the Americans can come in here and do this with impunity,” Gates told reporters at the Pentagon.

He was responding to a question about what should be done if someone in Pakistan’s government did know. “I think we have to recognize that they see a cost in that and a price that has been paid.”

Admiral Mullen told reporters the incident was a “humbling experience” for the Pakistanis that has led to “internal soul-searching.”

“They’ve been through a lot tied to this, and their image has been tarnished. And they care, as we all do, and they care a lot about that. They’re a very proud military,” Mullen said.

Admiral Mullen said the relationship between the two countries faces challenges going forward but its continuance is crucial for the United States.

“I think it would be a really significantly negative outcome if the relationship got broken,” Mullen said.

Gates said he is frustrated by the Pakistani reluctance to go after al Qaeda and Taliban elements in northwest Pakistan.

It is easy to argue that Pakistan has got enough problems without going looking for more trouble.

The secretary and the chairman also expressed great concern about all the details on the raid that have been made public.

Gates noted an agreement had been reached in the government not to discuss “operational details” but “that lasted about 15 hours.”

“We want to retain the capability to carry out these kinds of operations in the future. And when so much detail is available, it makes that both more difficult and riskier,” he told reporters.

Gates has to expect that when one of the biggest stories of the last decade breaks that government officials will be queuing up to have their moment in the spotlight. We are talking about politicians after all.