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72 per cent Americans agree 'Pak knew all along' about Osama's hideout: Poll

May 6, 2011 - Washington

A whopping 72 per cent of Americans agree that 'Pakistan knew all along' that Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was hiding in a luxury compound in Abbottabad, according to a new poll.

At the same time, nearly half of them say that following bin Laden's death, the US should "stay on course" in Afghanistan and prevent it from again becoming a base for international terrorist operations.

Less than a third of Americans say that the demise of Al Qaeda's leader is reason enough to declare "mission accomplished" and accelerate America's exit from war-ravaged Afghanistan.

These are among the findings of a Christian Science Monitor/TIPP poll conducted over three days following the announcement of bin Laden's death late Sunday.

The Saudi-born terrorist, who had evaded capture for a decade, was killed Sunday night in a top secret operation involving a small team of US Special Forces in Abbottabad city, located 50 kilometres northeast of Islamabad and 150 kilometres east of Peshawar.

According to the poll, 72 per cent of Americans agree with the statement that "Pakistan knew all along" where bin Laden was hiding, with only 14 per cent disagreeing, while 13 percent were not sure about it.

The American public's scepticism about Pakistan is hardly surprising, given the heavy media focus placed on bin Laden's compound, and details like its location near an Army garrison and the particulars of its elaborate construction, since US President Barack Obama announced the secret operation into Pakistan on Sunday night.

The US public's perceptions of Pakistan also reflect the views of a number of US intelligence officials - carried in the US media though mostly anonymously - that at a minimum, some elements of the Pakistani intelligence apparatus must have known of bin Laden's refuge, the CSM report said.

The public's doubts about Pakistan as a partner in the battle with Islamist extremism and in the war in Afghanistan are also likely to register in Congress, in which a debate is intensifying over whether the US should use the bin Laden events to pressure Pakistan for more cooperation, or cut back on relations and reduce financial assistance running into around 2 billion dollars annually.


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