Osama would have escaped if Pak permission sought: Obama
24 October, 2012
WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama, in some of his most blunt remarks to date, said on Monday Osama bin Laden would have escaped if America had sought Pakistan's permission ahead of the raid on the al Qaeda leader's compound.
"If we had asked Pakistan (for) permission, we would not have gotten him," Obama said.
Romney – during his failed bid for the 2008 Republican nomination – criticised Obama for warning publicly that, if Islamabad didn't act, he would go into Pakistan to get high value targets like bin Laden. Romney suggested such comments were not helpful in building ties. On Monday, he said he also would have ordered the raid.
"We had to go into Pakistan. We had to go in there to get Osama bin Laden. That was the right thing to do," he said.
Romney said further he would maintain drone strikes in Pakistan if he defeats Obama and impose conditions on aid to the nuclear-armed nation. At the two men's final debate before November 6 elections, Romney largely embraced Obama's positions on Pakistan and, in a departure from his frequent criticism, said he did not blame Obama for troubled ties between the nations.
"It's widely reported that drones are being used in drone strikes, and I support that... entirely and feel the president was right to up the usage of that technology," Romney said at the debate in Florida.
Romney said he believed the US should "continue to go after the people that represent a threat to this nation and to our friends". But he added, "We're going to have to do more than just going after leaders and killing bad guys, important as that is."
Romney also voiced concern about the Haqqani network, and worried over the power of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency. "It's a nation that's not like others and it does not have a civilian leadership that is calling the shots there," he said.
Asked by moderator Bob Schieffer if the US should "divorce" Pakistan, Romney supported continued ties but – in line with legislation approved by Congress – called for more conditions on US assistance. "No, it's not time to divorce a nation on Earth that has 100 nuclear weapons and is on the way to double that at some point, a nation that has serious threats from terrorist groups within its nation," he said.