M A I N   N E W S

Obama was ready for face-off with Pak
Prez ensured that the Special Forces team was large enough to fight its way out, if engaged

Washington, May 10
President Barack Obama was willing to risk military confrontation with Pakistan in the covert operation to capture or kill Osama bin Laden and had insisted that the special US assault force be large enough to fight its way out if engaged.

Revealing additional details about planning for the dramatic Abbottabad mission on May 1, senior Obama Administration officials were quoted by New York Times as saying the President did not want to take anything to chance.

The President had authorised Navy Seal commandos to engage any hostile Pakistani police or forces if confronted while carrying out the operation, the US daily said. It also reported that two teams of specialists were on standby: One to bury bin Laden if he was killed, and a second composed of lawyers, interrogators and translators in case he was captured alive. That team was set to meet aboard a Navy ship, most likely the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson in the North Arabian Sea.

Obama’s decision to increase the size of the force sent into Pakistan shows that he was willing to risk a military confrontation with a close ally in order to capture or kill the Al-Qaida leader, the US daily said.

“Such a fight would have set off an even larger breach with the Pakistanis than has taken place, since officials in Islamabad learned that helicopters filled with members of a Navy Seals team had flown undetected into one of their cities, and burst into a compound where bin Laden was hiding,” it said.

“Their instructions were to avoid any confrontation, if at all possible. But if they had to return fire to get out, they were authorised to do it,” a senior Obama Administration official was quoted as saying.

As against the wishes of some of his advisors, President Obama insisted on increasing the size of his combat team so as that they would be able to successfully handle the Pakistani forces if confronted during the mission.

Pakistan has already said that it had scrambled its jets and forces to tackle the foreign forces at Abbottabad, but the US Special Forces left the compound after successfully carrying out the operation in about 40 minutes.

“Some people may have assumed we could talk our way out of a jam, but given our difficult relationship with Pakistan right now, the President did not want to leave anything to chance,” a senior administration official was quoted as saying. — PTI





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