In a op-ed for Foreign Policy, Pakistani Ambassador to the United States at the time of Osama bin Laden’s killing in May 2011, Husain Haqqani, writes that Seymour Hersh’s version of events “borders on fantasy.” Haqqani notes that if Pakistan was involved in the raid, they would have wanted credit for their role.
“If a backroom deal had been negotiated to secure Pakistani cooperation in the raid on Abbottabad in return for US silence, the ISI would have demanded some glory for its cooperation," Haqqani writes. "Facilitating the raid, as narrated by Hersh, would have provided Pakistan’s military and ISI an opportunity to redeem themselves in American eyes."
Haqqani emphasizes that there is no evidence pointing to Pakistani officials knowing about the bin Laden raid and subsequently in the killing’s aftermath wanted to "ensure that there would be no reprisals against Pakistan over allegations of official complicity in hiding bin Laden."
"My instructions were clear: to ensure that the US government, Congress, and the media did not blame Pakistan’s government, armed forces, or intelligence services for allowing Osama bin Laden’s presence in the country, as that would have been a violation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1267 and 1373," Haqqani writes. "My bosses, both civilian and military, were obviously concerned that Pakistan would be taken to task."
Haqqani does, however, make clear that someone — not necessarily someone in collaboration with the Pakistani government — was protecting bin Laden from 2006 to 2011.
While Hersh’s story has been dubbed simply an outlandish conspiracy theory, the viral story's publication has since sparked an uproar of unanswered questions surrounding the U.S. government's explanation of bin Laden's killing.