The director of the US Central Intelligence Agency admitted that American officials kept their Pakistani counterparts in the dark about the operation to kill Osama Bin Laden because they feared the plan would be jeopardized.

Leon Panetta told Time magazine that the US were worried that Pakistani security agents might tip off Osama or his associates and thereby allow the al Qaeda terrorist chief to escape yet again.

It was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardize the mission. They might alert the targets,” Panetta reportedly told the magazine.

Panetta also said that US forces seized an impressive amount of material in Sunday's raid, including computers and electronics.

Pakistani government officials have already conceded that they were not told ahead of time of the mission to kill Osama.

Pakistan's premier intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) said it was “embarrassed” by its inability to catch Osama.

Now, the US and Pakistan face a very difficult stretch of road, owing to US suspicions that ISI agents have been protecting

Osama and other terrorists for years. The aid that Pakistan received from the US ($1.3-billion last year) may now be in jeopardy.

However, Pakistan’s foreign ministry has defended the country’s intelligence department.

The ministry also expressed its concern over a raid that it was not alerted to.

This event of unauthorized unilateral action cannot be taken as a rule, it said.

As far as the target compound is concerned, ISI had been sharing information with CIA and other friendly intelligence agencies since 2009, the ministry stated.

An ISI official told BBC: This one failure should not make us look totally incompetent. Look at our track record. For the last 10 years, we have captured Taliban and al-Qaeda in their hundreds - more than any other countries put together.

Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari wrote a column in The Washington Post that his government knew nothing of Osama’s whereabouts.

[Osama] was not anywhere we had anticipated he would be, but now he is gone, he wrote.

Although the events of Sunday were not a joint operation, a decade of co-operation and partnership between the United States and Pakistan led up to the elimination of Osama bin Laden as a continuing threat to the civilized world.

Zardari added: Some in the US press have suggested that Pakistan lacked vitality in its pursuit of terrorism, or worse yet that we were disingenuous and actually protected the terrorists we claimed to be pursuing. Such baseless speculation may make exciting cable news, but it doesn't reflect fact,”

But US national security adviser John Brennan said it is inconceivable that Bin Laden did not have a support system in Pakistan.

Brennan estimates that Osama was living in the compound in Abbottabad for five or six years.