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Some worry bin Laden death could make US ally an enemy

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The immediate consequences of President Barack Obama’s Sunday night announcement that Osama bin Laden had been killed were evident all across the country — sighs of relief, cheers of joy and songs of patriotism.

The long-term consequences of the president’s announcement are yet to surface, however.

One concern is the effect the United States’ actions during the mission to take out bin Laden might have on relations with Pakistan, a major non-NATO ally of the U.S.

“Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was,” Obama said. “That is what we’ve done. But it’s important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding. Indeed, bin Laden had declared war against Pakistan as well and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people.”

Romin Iqbal, staff attorney at the Columbus chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, welcomed the news of bin Laden’s death.

“Justice was certainly served by his death,” Iqbal said. Although al-Qaida retaliation “is a possibility, our hope is that nothing will happen.”

View Osama bin Laden Compound in a larger map

Though Obama eluded to cooperation from Pakistani officials, John Mueller, an Ohio State professor in political science and the Woody Hayes Chair of National Security Studies, said he thinks Pakistani officials are looking out for their own interests.

Mueller said Pakistanis think of Pakistan as No. 1 in the same manner Americans think of the United States as No. 1.

“(Pakistan) is not particularly interested in losing lives to help American foreign policy,” Mueller said. “(They are) not willing to do the U.S. any favors, especially if it costs them money and lives.”

The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan released a statement on their website in which they said “Pakistan has played a significant role in efforts to eliminate terrorism. We have had extremely effective intelligence sharing arrangements with several intelligence agencies including that of the U.S. We will continue to support international efforts against terrorism.”

He also said the Pakistani Military Academy’s proximity to the compound where bin Laden was found and killed is “suspicious.”

“(The proximity) makes the Pakistani government and army look a little foolish,” Mueller said.

Mueller said Pakistan’s hostility toward the U.S. is already strong.

“(Bin Laden’s death) won’t make it better or, really, any worse,” Mueller said.

Peter Mansoor, an associate professor in history and former executive officer to General David Petraeus in the army, disagrees.

“Given that (the U.S.) didn’t coordinate the strike with the Pakistanis and the fact that his location turns out to be 1,000 (yards) away from a military academy in Pakistan obviously strains the relationship,” Mansoor said. “We’ll have to wait and see how this all plays out in the end.” 

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