The Pentagon affirmed Wednesday that the top leadership in Pakistan was unaware that Osama bin Laden was hiding in the country but that “somebody knew.”
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told reporters “I have seen no evidence at all that the senior leadership knew.”
“In fact, I’ve seen some evidence to the contrary and we have no evidence yet with respect to anybody else,” he added.
But Gates stressed: “my supposition is: Somebody knew.”
Also the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen told reporters “I’ve seen no evidence since the bin Laden raid that indicates that the top leadership knew bin Laden was there.”
Mullen added that “clearly we’ve had challenges with respect to the long-term strategic partnership” with Pakistan.
“I think the region continues to be critical and our relationship continues to be critical,” he affirmed.
He noted that there are still challenges “associated with things that we think need to be done.” “I think it would be a really significantly negative outcome if the relationship got broken,” he remarked.
For his part, Gates said: “I think we have to proceed with some caution.” “We do have significant interests in Pakistan. I think that my own view would be we need to continue the assistance that we have provided that benefits the Pakistani people,” he stressed.
He affirmed “we do have interests in common and we do need to try and move forward.”