Six months after bin Laden assassination: United States – Pakistan relations

November 4, 2011

Since the killing of Osama bin Laden six months ago by American forces in Pakistan, relations between the two countries remain strained.

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Nov. 4, 2011

Since the killing of Osama bin Laden six months ago by American forces in Pakistan, relations between the two countries remain strained.

Pakistan’s leaders harshly condemned the raid as a violation of its sovereignty, then kicked out a number of U.S. military advisors and threatened to shoot down U.S. aircraft if they entered Pakistan airspace.

But according to CU-Boulder’s assistant professor of geography. Najeeb Jan, who is an expert on the Taliban and Pakistan, although the raid may have embarrassed Pakistan it was not a deal breaker.

CUT 1 “Pakistan needs the Americans and the Americans need Pakistan. It’s a bit like China and the U.S. in terms of the ideological opposition but they are interlinked symbiotically.” (:12)

Jan says, although the raid was an embarrassment for Pakistan, civilian and military leaders there were most likely prepared for something like this to happen. He says there are reports that there was a secret agreement made years ago between former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and President Bush to let American forces conduct operations against bin Laden inside Pakistan. If there was any action taken by the U.S. inside Pakistan, both sides agreed, Pakistan would protest.

CUT 2 “The thing with this particular operation is that there is so much we don’t know about precisely who is cooperating with who and at what level. There was some indication that Musharraf had given the OK to such an operation. (:13) So I think it’s quite likely that at the highest level there was an agreement that we will let you do it but we will have to deny complicity or knowledge because it would be humiliating nationally. So there’s been this public posturing on the one hand and then a kind of tacit recognition of what’s going on.” (:30)

 Jan says another indicator that it’s “business as usual” between the two countries is that even though Pakistan threatened to cut off supply lines used by NATO forces to ferry food and fuel into Afghanistan and the U.S. threatened to cut off aid if Pakistan did not act against terrorists holed up in the country, U.S. drones are still flying, NATO supply lines through Pakistan are still open and Pakistan is still getting aid from the U.S.

CUT 3 “All of this aside, if the U.S. was saying all along that the Pakistani’s were complicit and the Pakistani’s are saying that the U.S. violated their sovereignty and so on and so forth, then why continue to give them permission to continue to fly the drones. So in other words, it’s business as usual under the cover.” (:15)


Jan is part Pakistani and attended school there for six years. His research includes political Islam, the Taliban and U.S. policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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