U.S. Probes If Pakistan Colluded With Militants
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
NPR's Julie McCarthy has been listening in from Islamabad, Pakistan, where, as we mentioned, some militants got away. And their escape suggests possible collusion between the government and militants based in Pakistan's tribal areas.
A couple of times in recent weeks the U.S. alerted Pakistan about bomb making facilities operated by insurgents fighting NATO and American troops. But when Pakistani troops moved to raid those factories the militants had fled, the facilities were empty.
Julie, what have you learned about how that happened?
JULIE MCCARTHY: Well, a U.S. official is telling NPR that the targets seem to have been tipped off after their cover was blown and they bolted from these two facilities. The two bomb making factories, one of which was said to be in a girl's school in North Waziristan were vacated reportedly within 24 hours of the United States providing Pakistani intelligence. The U.S. does not know how this happened. But the suspicion is someone from the Pakistani side within the intelligence apparatus alerted the militants and scuttled the raid.
INSKEEP: If this was true, it would be another huge embarrassment for Pakistan. So what are the Pakistanis saying?
MCCARTHY: Well, they're not saying much. But the U.S. official who spoke to us on the condition of anonymity said that some senior Pakistani officials aren't happy about what appears to be compromised U.S. intelligence. And he says neither is the United States, because the militants who got away posed a direct threat to the American forces across the border in Afghanistan.
The Pakistan military was enraged, you know, when the Americans decided not to tell the Pakistanis in advance about the U.S. raid on Osama bin Laden's compound for fear it would be leaked. And so, in an effort to assuage that anger, to try to reestablish some trust, the Americans presented the Pakistanis with satellite imagery that showed the facilities in the northwest tribal areas of North and South Waziristan. Both places that are havens for militants. And the results was that the facilities had been cleared out before the Pakistani military could even raid them.
So this reopens this whole question of how to share intelligence, when to share intelligence. And at the heart of it is how the United States makes this fractured and difficult relationship with Pakistan work.
INSKEEP: Well, let's talk about that relationship with Bruce Hoffman here.
Bruce Hoffman, as you know very well, Pakistanis were furious that they were not informed, were not trusted really with information about the bin Laden raid, that killed Osama bin Laden in May. And now here's a situation where the U.S. shared information and the information seems to have leaked.
How does this affect that debate?
Mr. HOFFMAN: Well, firstly, the president obviously made the right call - that of which there is no doubt now. But I think secondly, if Pakistan really wants to enrage the U.S. Congress, and if they're trying to get the U.S. Congress to cut off aid or at least to relieve ratchet down or batten down the accountability, I mean they're going at exactly the right way. There's already tremendous concern in the Congress and elsewhere that the aid we're giving Pakistan is not being well spent, that it's not resulting in the cooperation that we expect.
I mean this is, I think, comes at a very critical time and, you know, can't but harm Pakistani-U.S. relations. And certainly generate even more suspicions of how reliable an ally Pakistan is at this critical juncture.
INSKEEP: Okay, so people in the United States are deeply suspicious of Pakistan. Let's go back to Pakistan now.
Julie McCarthy, you've been following the debate as this news has come out the last couple of days. Pakistanis have been angry at the United States, but are Pakistanis, some of them now saying, wow, we really do have a problem here?
MCCARTHY: Well, I think you are seeing the debate start to change. And as that debate changes, the army is scrambling to salvage its reputation. And it's calculating, really, that distancing itself from the U.S. may be one way to do that.
In the wake of the Osama bin Laden affair, the army was deeply disgraced and it ordered the U.S. to pull most of its military personnel out of the country. Two weeks ago, militants staged a brazen attack on Pakistan's navy in Karachi. And the journalist who wrote about al-Qaida ties to the Pakistan navy, that may have facilitated that siege, was murdered.
And so you have the Pakistani public clamoring for answers. Among them, how is it that the military gets all this money, how is it really being spent?
INSKEEP: Julie, thanks very much.
MCCARTHY: Thank you.
INSKEEP: Thats NPR's Julie McCarthy in Islamabad. We've also been speaking with Bruce Hoffman at Georgetown University.
Mr. Hoffman, thanks to you.
Mr. HOFFMAN: You're very welcome.
INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News.
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