The US and Pakistan struck a secret deal almost a decade ago permitting a US operation against Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil similar to last week’s raid that killed the al Qaeda leader, the Guardian has learned.
The deal was struck between military leader General Pervez Musharraf and President George Bush after Bin Laden escaped US forces in the mountains of Tora Bora in late 2001, according to serving and retired Pakistani and US officials.
Under the deal’s terms, Pakistan would allow American forces to conduct a unilateral raid inside Pakistan in search of Bin Laden, his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri and the al Qaeda number three. Afterwards, both sides agreed, Pakistan would vociferously protest the incursion.
A senior Pakistani official said the deal was renewed by the army during the “transition to democracy” — a six-month period from February 2008, when Musharraf was still president but a civilian government had been elected.
Former president Pervez Musharraf says he never struck an agreement with the US to let its forces kill or capture Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan.
Musharraf’s spokesman Fawad Chaudhry said that news reports were baseless. No such agreement was signed and there wasn’t a verbal understanding either, he said.
(With inputs from AP) The Guardian