Former CIA Director Gen David Petraeus has said that he is “convinced” that the Pakistani intelligence agencies did not know Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan, countering Prime Minister Imran Khan’s claims that the ISI provided a lead to the CIA that helped the US track down and kill the al-Qaeda chief in 2011.
Prime Minister Khan’s statement on Osama during an interview with Fox News on Monday was significant as Pakistan had so far denied that it had any information about the hideout of the al-Qaeda chief before he was killed in a covert raid by a US Navy SEAL team in the garrison city of Abbottabad.
Petraeus, during an interactive session at the Indian Consulate in New York on Tuesday following his address on the topic of the Indo-Pacific, however, asserted the US is convinced that the Pakistani intelligence was not aware that the terrorist leader was hiding in their country.
“We are quite convinced that the ISI, Pakistani intelligence, no one else knew that he (Osama) was there (in Pakistan). They were not harbouring him or hiding him or anything like that. We have very good insights on that. We probably differ with those who said that the Pakistanis were allowing him to live in that particular compound in Abbottabad,” he said.
Petraeus said that during counter-insurgency campaigns, Pakistani authorities could never close in on North Waziristan where terror outfits such as the Haqqani network, al-Qaeda and others had their headquarters and some of their forces.
He added that the US learned later on that Osama was not in that area but near the Pakistan Military Academy in Abbottabad.
“I figured out later that I had probably flown right over his compound in a helicopter as I went to address the cadets at the military academy one time,” he said, referring to the Pakistan Military Academy.
Petraeus, a partner in the international investment firm KKR and Chairman of the KKR Global Institute, was the special guest for the ‘New India Lecture’ series organised by the Consulate General of India, New York in partnership with the US India Strategic Partnership Forum.
Petraeus said he hopes Khan will be able to deal with the challenges of his country, where the economy is “very distorted” and where the “realities of the situation are really quite difficult”.