Pakistan government has denied reports that its intelligence service has arrested five informants of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) over the raid at Osama bin Laden's hide out in Abbotabad, Pakistan.
The informants were said to have been arrested on charges of giving tips to CIA that led to the raid and subsequent killing of terrorist Osama bin Laden.
Earlier, a report from New York Times said the arrested informants included a Pakistani Army Major who noted the license plates of cars visiting bin Laden's compound in the city of Abbottabad weeks before the U.S. operation took place.
Though the fate of the arrested CIA informants was unknown, American officials said the CIA director, Leon Panetta, raised the issue on his last week's visit to Islamabad to meet Pakistani military and intelligence officers, the report added.
However, a spokesman of Pakistan's Inter Services Pubilc Relations (ISPR) has strongly refuted the news report.
There is no army officer detained and the story is false and totally baseless, the statement from ISPR said.
Another Wound in Strained Relations
Nevertheless, the latest developments add salt to the already strained relationship between U.S. and Pakistan after the Osama raid.
Pakistan condemned the U.S. operation, saying it violated the country's sovereignty. But the United States responded that 'Operation Geronimo,' which resulted in the killing of bin Laden, was perfectly legal in accordance with international law.
Even before Operation Geronimo, the relationship between the two nations were strained as Islamabad criticized frequent U.S. drone strikes on militant targets in Pakistan and secret CIA operations, saying that such operations violated its sovereignty.
The New York Times report also said Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell rates Pakistan's cooperation with the U.S. on counter-terrorism operations at only three in a scale of ten.
According to a Pakistani intelligence official, raw phone-tap data had been transferred to the United States without being analyzed by Pakistan. While the U.S. was concentrating on this information since September 2010, information regarding bin Laden and the compound's inhabitants had slipped from Pakistan's radar over the months.
Numerous allegations were made that the government of Pakistan was involved in shielding bin Laden. Aspects of the incident that have fueled the allegations include the proximity of bin Laden's heavily fortified compound to the Pakistan Military Academy, that the United States did not notify the Pakistani authorities before the operation, and the alleged double standards of Pakistan regarding the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
Pakistani-born British MP Khalid Mahmood stated that he was flabbergasted and shocked after he learned that bin Laden was living in a city with thousands of Pakistani troops, reviving questions about alleged links between al-Qaeda and elements in Pakistan's security forces.
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham asked, How could bin Laden be in such a compound without being noticed?, raising suspicions that Pakistan was either uncommitted in the fight against Islamist militants or was actively sheltering them while pledging to fight them.
A Pakistani intelligence official said that they had passed on raw phone tap data to U.S. that led to the operation but had failed to analyze this data themselves.
U.S. government files leaked by Wikileaks disclosed that American diplomats were told that Pakistani security services were tipping off bin Laden every time U.S. forces approached.
Since February, U.S. administration is reported to suspend high level contacts with Pakistan and may also suspend economic aid. All this happened when Raymond Davis, an alleged private security contractor, was on an American diplomatic mission in Pakistan shot dead two Pakistani in January in what he said was in self-defense after they attempted to rob him. Pakistan acted tough on him despite U.S. demands that he be freed because he enjoys diplomatic immunity.
The CIA had long suspected Osama bin Laden of hiding in Pakistan. India and U.S. have time to time accused Pakistan of giving safe-haven to the Taliban. However, Pakistan has denied these accusations repeatedly.
On May 2, 2011, bin Laden was shot and killed inside a private residential compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, by U.S. Navy SEALs and CIA operatives in a covert operation ordered by U.S. President Barack Obama. Shortly after his death, the Al-Qaeda leader's body was buried at sea and even Al-Qaeda acknowledged his death on May 6, 2011, vowing to retaliate.
The U.S. has since said that it will not release the photos of the body of the slain bin Laden, saying the photos could result in additional violence against American interests.
Meanwhile, Judicial Watch, a public interest group, has sued CIA and Department of Defense (DOD) under Freedom of Information Act, seeking access to all photographs and/or video recordings of Osama (Usama) bin Laden taken during and/or after the U.S. military operation in Pakistan on or about May 1, 2011.