Islamabad: Pakistan will have to decide on the issue of conducting a joint operation with the US against Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders like Mullah Omar and Ayman al-Zawahiri if they are found in the country, American Ambassador Cameron Munter said on Monday.
The future of Pakistan-US relations is closely linked to Islamabad's replies to questions that have been raised by al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's presence in Pakistan, Munter indicated in an interview to Geo News channel.
Asked if the US will take unilateral action or work with Pakistan if there is actionable intelligence about the presence of Mullah Omar or al-Zawahiri in the country, Munter replied, "We are committed to fighting this terrorism. Our friends in Pakistan are committed to exactly the same thing. "The decision from Pakistan has to be can we do this together, can we work together as we should, as we are both committed to? That's what I'm saying, I think it can happen," he said.
Munter was speaking a week after US special forces gunned down bin Laden in a pre-dawn raid on a compound located a short distance from the Pakistan Military Academy in the garrison city of Abbottabad, just 80 kms from Islamabad.
The powerful military's apparent failure to detect bin Laden's presence in a city that is home to three regiments and thousands of soldiers has raised awkward and embarrassing questions for the civilian and military leadership.
Pakistani officials have said they had no prior information about the "unauthorised unilateral action" by the US that resulted in bin Laden's death.
While acknowledging the importance of the killing of the al-Qaeda leader, they have said that the Pakistani military will respond if there is any similar operation by the US or any other country, including arch-rival India.
US President Barack Obama, who had acknowledged Islamabad's intelligence cooperation while announcing bin Laden's death, has now called on Pakistan to investigate the support network that was backing the al-Qaeda leader.
Afghan and US officials have for long claimed that Mullah Omar and al-Zawahiri are present in Pakistan, a charge denied by Pakistani officials.