Former US President Barack Obama’s new book ‘A Promised Land’ these days has created a stir in the politics of many countries, not just America. In one part of this book, Obama has also made several revelations about the campaign to raid the whereabouts of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. Obama has stated that he refused to include Pakistan in it, because it was an ‘open secret’ that some elements in the Pakistan Army, especially its intelligence service, had links with the Taliban and perhaps even Al Qaeda and that at times they were in Afghanistan and used them as strategic capital against India.
Obama, in his book titled ‘A Promised Land’, gives details of the raids in Abbottabad during his tenure as President. The world’s most wanted terrorist, Laden, was killed on May 2, 2011, in a raid by American commandos. He said that this excessive intelligence operation was opposed by the then Defense Minister Robert Gates and former Vice President and current elected President Joe Biden.
The first black president of the US said several options were considered to kill the al-Qaeda chief after it became clear that Laden’s stay in a hideout outside the Pakistani military cantonment in Abbottabad. He said the need to maintain the secrecy of the campaign had increased the challenge.
Obama said, “We knew that if anyone got a little clue of our action about bin Laden, the chance would be lost, that’s why only a few people in the entire federal government planned to campaign and information was shared.” He wrote, “We had one more hurdle – Pakistan could not be included in whatever option we chose.”
Obama said, “Although the government of Pakistan cooperated with us in many anti-terrorism operations and provided vital supply routes for our forces in Afghanistan, it was an open secret that some elements in Pakistan’s military, especially its intelligence services, there were also links with the Taliban and possibly Al Qaeda. They sometimes used them as strategic capital to ensure that the Afghan government remains weak and that Afghanistan does not come close to India, Pakistan’s biggest enemy. ‘
He wrote that the Pakistan Army was just a few miles from the Abbottabad compound, which increased the possibility that information about the campaign could be leaked by informing Pakistanis about anything. Obama wrote that no matter what choice he made in Abbottabad, he would have had to enter the territory of his ally without permission in the most dangerous way, and this had also put diplomatic relations at stake and increased the complications.
In the final stages, two options were considered whether to carry out an airstrike or to authorize a particular mission, under which a team would secretly fly to Pakistan, raid the premises, be there and before the Pakistani police or army could react will come out. Obama and his national security team chose the second option.
Obama said that after this campaign, he spoke on the phone to many people domestically and internationally, the most difficult of which was to talk to the then President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari, who had been criticized for his non-action of the safety of Pakistan’s sovereignty and became the target for his apathy. He said, “However when I spoke to him, he congratulated and assured me of cooperation.”