Yea, you heard that right:
Osama bin Laden, America’s most wanted man, will not face capture in Pakistan if he agrees to lead a “peaceful life,” Pakistani officials tell ABC News.Apparently, General Sultan was...well, overruled, however.
The surprising announcement comes as Pakistani army officials announced they were pulling their troops out of the North Waziristan region as part of a “peace deal” with the Taliban.
If he is in Pakistan, bin Laden “would not be taken into custody,” Major General Shaukat Sultan Khan told ABC News in a telephone interview, “as long as one is being like a peaceful citizen.”
Bin Laden is believed to be hiding somewhere in the tribal areas of Pakistan, near the Afghanistan border, but U.S. officials say his precise location is unknown.
In addition to the pullout of Pakistani troops, the “peace agreement” between Pakistan and the Taliban also provides for the Pakistani army to return captured Taliban weapons and prisoners.
“What this means is that the Taliban and al Qaeda leadership have effectively carved out a sanctuary inside Pakistan,” said ABC News consultant Richard Clarke, the former White House counter-terrorism director.
The government of Pakistan today denied it would allow Osama bin Laden to avoid capture under terms of a peace agreement it signed with Taliban leaders in the country's North Waziristan area.D'huh? And yet, ABC news prints a transcript of the original conversation:
"If he is in Pakistan, today or any time later, he will be taken into custody and brought to justice," the Pakistani ambassador to the United States, Mahmud Ali Durrani, said in a statement.
The ambassador said a Pakistani military spokesman, Major General Shaukat Sultan, had been "grossly misquoted" when he told ABC News Tuesday that bin Laden would not be taken into custody "as long as one is being like a peaceful citizen."
Q. ABC News: If bin Laden or Zawahiri were there, they could stay?So General Sultan is saying that, if bin Laden surrenders, they'll take him into custody, but hey, they aren't going to sweat the small detail of finding him.
A. Gen. Sultan: No one of that kind can stay. If someone is there he will have to surrender, he will have to live like a good citizen, his whereabouts, exit travel would be known to the authorities.
Q. ABC News: So, he wouldn't be taken into custody? He would stay there?
A. Gen. Sultan: No, as long as one is staying like a peaceful citizen, one would not be taken into custody. One has to stay like a peaceful citizen and not allowed to participate in any kind of terrorist activity.
But go re-read the Pakistani denial again. Oh hell, I'll let General Sultan fill in my thinking:
General Sultan said today it was "hair splitting" to speculate whether troops would be sent in if bin Laden was found in North Waziristan.In other words, the nuanced position is that IF Pakistan finds bin Laden, they'll capture him.
"If someone is found there, we will see what is to be done," General Sultan said today. "Pakistan is committed to the war on terror, and of course we will go after any terrorist found to be operating here," he said.
Well, that's a little bit better than "if he turns himself in," but now the question has to be asked, "How much effort is our new-found friend...you know, the one with clowns to the left of them, jokers to the right...going to put into hunting bin Laden down?"
My guess? About as much as Bush put into finding WMDs in Iraq (see my Rose Coloured Goggles post). The frightening fact is, between Iraq, Afghanistan and now Pakistan, bin Laden has gained more ground, earned more territory to operate in, than before 9/11. That means more places to hide, but also more places to plot, plan and stash supplies and ammunition.
And we're safer?
snarkasm, snarcasm, snarky
Osama bin Laden