Pakistan appears prepared to give the U.S. access to Osama Bin Laden’s three wives. Along with twelve or thirteen other people at the compound, the widows were taken into in Pakistani custody after the raid in Abbottabad. The Obama administration has been requesting access to the women to determined how bin Laden was able to live there undetected for an estimated five years. The White House has yet to confirm, but thus far it looks like reports are describing permission to interview, not interrogate. “The Pakistanis now appear willing to grant access. Hopefully, they’ll carry through on the signals they’re sending,” a U.S. official told Reuters. Those signals indicating a willingness to cooperate are not lost on the Pakistani people, who are, in a word, “furious.”
The same day that the Guardian’s sources exposed a possible decade-old deal between the U.S. and Pakistan (we get to conduct unilateral raids against bin Laden, they pretend they never knew), a citizen named Sardar Saeed told ABC News:
“They’re all liars. They knew everything. If they didn’t, they’re answerable to 180 million people. They’re pocketing the hard-earned income of the people while they live in palaces.”
While the civilian government is widely acknowledged to be corrupt and ineffective, the reaction to the raid conducted on Pakistan’s soil is damaging the reputation of the country’s military. The army’s support dropped after General Pervez Musharraf (who originally brokered the U.S. deal) stepped down in 2007. But “three years of positive coverage and meticulous PR work” have made it the most popular institution in the country, despite U.S. drone attacks in the tribal regimes. However, hearing that a U.S. helicopters flew in and out of the country — walking distance from the country’s West Point — undid all that brand-building. If the raid led to an atmosphere of distrust towards both the government and the military, the mission to kill bin Laden may have inadvertently created a more unstable Pakistan.
Pakistan may grant U.S. access to bin Laden’s wives [Reuters]
Official: Pakistan to Give US Access to Bin Laden Widows [ABC News]
Anger in Pakistan: The View from Abbottabad [The Note/ABC News]