New Delhi: The top Pakistani leadership knew about the presence of Osama bin Laden, the world’s most wanted terrorist, in their country long before the US killed him in a midnight raid in May 2011, former Pakistan defence minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar has revealed.
The then president Asif Ali Zardari, then army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and other top officials all knew that bin Laden was in Pakistan, Mukhtar, who was defence minister then, told a leading news channel in an interview.
This is the first time a senior Pakistani leader has publicly admitted what was always suspected — that the Pakistani establishment was aware that Bin Laden was living in Abbottabad, close to the capital city of Islamabad.
To the question if Pakistan’s then president and prime minister knew about Osama being at Abbottabad, Mukhtar said: “The people who were part and parcel of the whole action, like the president of Pakistan, the armed forces chief, the joint chief of staff and the agency people – they were all activated and they were all waiting for orders for them to come out with their teams and provide all the information which they should have done earlier.”
“Some people knew, people in the Pakistan army as well as people in the other forces… they also knew it and they were on the lookout for somebody of the stature of Osama bin Laden,” the former defence minister said in response to another question.