Pak to grant US access to widows of bin Laden

PTI Washington | Updated on May 10, 2011 Published on May 10, 2011

Pakistan has agreed to grant US access to the three widows of Osama bin Laden, who were detained soon after the killing of the al-Qaeda chief in his Abbottabad hideout last week, media reports said today.

The US investigating agencies would be given “direct access” to the three widows of bin Laden, meaning the US government agents will be able to interview them, and not just submit questions, CBS news reported.

With this, Islamabad has met one of the major demands of the Obama Administration.

“A United States official said that American investigators would soon be allowed to interview bin Laden’s three widows, now being held by Pakistani authorities,” The New York Times reported.

While there was no official confirmation of this news from the White House, CNN said Pakistan will allow the US to question or take into custody the apparent wives of bin Laden only if their “country of origin has been asked for permission’’, according to a senior Pakistani intelligence source.

Earlier in the day, the White House Press Secretary, Mr Jay Carney, said the US is in consultation with the Pakistani Government at many levels about access to bin Laden’s wives, and some of the other materials that may have been collected by the Pakistanis after the US commando team left.

“We will continue those conversations. We believe that it is very important to maintain the cooperative relationship with Pakistan precisely because it’s in our national security interest to do so,” he said.

In another news report, The New York Times said the CIA Director, Mr Leon Panetta, would soon meet the ISI Chief, Lt Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha, “to discuss the way forward in the common fight against al-Qaeda’’.

On Sunday, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called the Pakistani Army Chief, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, as part of the continued dialogue.

That’s the highest level of contact between the two countries after the US President, Mr Barack Obama, called his Pakistani counterpart, Mr Asif Ali Zardari, to inform him that Osama bin Laden has been killed in a covert US operation.

Both the Pentagon and the State Department confirmed on Monday that neither the Defence Secretary, Mr Robert Gates, nor the Secretary of State, Ms Hillary Clinton, have made any telephone calls to the Pakistani leadership after the last week’s incident of killing bin Laden.

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Published on May 10, 2011
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