WASHINGTON -- The United States has no "definitive evidence" that Pakistan knew Osama bin Laden had been living in the compound where Navy SEALs killed him, but the Pakistanis must now show convincingly their commitment to defeating the al-Qaida terrorist network, a senior Pentagon official said yesterday.
Michele Flournoy, the top policy aide to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, told reporters that the Pakistani government should, for example, help Washington exploit the materials the SEALs collected inside bin Laden's lair during their raid, according to The Associated Press.
Meanwhile Thursday, Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir warned of "disastrous consequences" if the United States staged another attack on its territory. Pakistani media speculated this week that the United States, riding high, would soon try to capture Afghan Taliban leader Mohammad Omar or the chief of the Haqqani network, another Afghan militant group, who it is believed may both be in Pakistan.
And Pakistan's army called for cuts in the number of U.S. military personnel inside the country to protest the American raid, and threatened to cut cooperation with Washington if it stages more unilateral raids on its territory.
Flournoy was the first Pentagon official to comment on the record about the raid. She offered no new details about it, but said it dealt "a very severe blow" to al-Qaida and offers incentive for Pakistan to cooperate more fully in defeating the terrorist network.
Questions about whether Pakistan knew of bin Laden's whereabouts, and may even have helped hide him, arose immediately after the raid. Flournoy said U.S. officials have pressed Pakistan for more details about the matter.
"We are still talking with the Pakistanis and trying to understand what they did know, what they didn't know," she said. "We do not have any definitive evidence at this point that they did know that Osama bin Laden was at this compound."
Pressed for more detail about what evidence U.S. officials might have about Pakistani knowledge of bin Laden's whereabouts before the raid, Flournoy declined to elaborate.
The raid on bin Laden has sharpened tensions between the two countries. But while some U.S. lawmakers have been calling on Washington to cut its aid to the country, the Obama administration and British Prime Minister David Cameron have indicated they would continue with their policy of engaging with the country.