Australia — Stephen Smith on Pakistan and the death of Osama bin Laden

Min­is­ter for Defence Stephen Smith tran­script 7.30 Report ABC
CHRIS UHLMANN: Stephen Smith wel­come.
STEPHEN SMITH: Plea­sure.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Now Pak­istan must have known and known for years where Osama bin Laden was.
STEPHEN SMITH: Well that’s an asser­tion. I don’t know what evi­dence you have to base that on.

CHRIS UHLMANN: He was in a high secu­ri­ty com­pound 100 kilo­me­tres from the cap­i­tal eight times larg­er than any­thing around it, six metre high walls. 

STEPHEN SMITH: It does­n’t fol­low from that, that Pak­istan, or the Pak­istan state, or the Pak­istan gov­ern­ment was know­ing­ly har­bour­ing. I think the most impor­tant ele­ment of today’s events so far as Pak­istan is con­cerned is that Pres­i­dent Oba­ma has made it clear that Pak­istan assist­ed, and that when he rang Pres­i­dent Zardari to effec­tive­ly thank him, they both wel­comed the out­come. So that’s a good sign. 

CHRIS UHLMANN: But the US did­n’t tell Pak­istan ahead of this. 

STEPHEN SMITH: Well you don’t know that. 

CHRIS UHLMANN: It’s been said, it’s been stat­ed. I thought they told no-one until after the oper­a­tion had been car­ried out. 

STEPHEN SMITH: Well there’s no doubt that the mat­ter was very close­ly held. That’s the first point. It’s also clear to me from Pres­i­dent Obama’s com­ments that he was pleased with Pakistan’s assis­tance. Now what the nature, extent of that was, I’m not pre­tend­ing that we have access to that at this stage, but I regard today in terms of Pak­istan mak­ing a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion as a good development. 

CHRIS UHLMANN: So you trust Pakistan? 

STEPHEN SMITH: Well I trust Pak­istan to under­stand that the ter­ror­ist exis­tence on the Pak­istan Afghanistan bor­der is not just a prob­lem for Afghanistan, it’s also a prob­lem for Pak­istan. Indeed at times oth­ers have thought that per­haps it’s an exis­ten­tial threat to Pakistan. 

CHRIS UHLMANN: I guess that’s the point though — because as a Defence Min­is­ter who has troops in Afghanistan, it is absolute­ly impor­tant that you can trust Pak­istan that oper­a­tions aren’t launched from inside its ter­ri­to­ry with its intel­li­gence agen­cies know­ing that that’s going on. 

STEPHEN SMITH: Well what is absolute­ly essen­tial is that Pak­istan con­tin­ues to make progress against extrem­ism and, in recent years, we have seen Pak­istan do a sig­nif­i­cant amount, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the old fed­er­al­ly admin­is­tered ter­ri­to­ries, in the Fatah area, to seek to stare down extrem­ism and ter­ror­ism. Is there more to do? Yes. Is there a long way to go? Yes. But what we do know is essen­tial is the coop­er­a­tion of a Pak­istan state, the coop­er­a­tion of a Pak­istan gov­ern­ment is absolute­ly essen­tial to an endur­ing set­tle­ment in Afghanistan. 

CHRIS UHLMANN: What does the death of Osama bin Laden mean do you think? 

STEPHEN SMITH: Well I think two things. First­ly, it is a con­sid­er­able set­back for Al Qae­da, a con­sid­er­able set­back for inter­na­tion­al ter­ror­ism and that’s the first point. Sec­ond­ly, hav­ing made that point we can’t claim vic­to­ry. Inter­na­tion­al ter­ror­ism is a mul­ti-head­ed mon­ster and oth­er peo­ple will move to take his place. Per­haps they will not replace him in full — but nonethe­less Al Qae­da and its var­i­ous asso­ciates will con­tin­ue. We know that Al Qae­da in the Afghanistan Pak­istan bor­der is not the only ter­ror­ist threat that the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty faces.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Osama bin Laden must have con­tem­plat­ed his death for a long time. Do you fear that there will be reprisals, and per­haps well planned reprisals?

STEPHEN SMITH: Well this is one of the dan­gers. And the Unit­ed States has made this clear with its trav­el alert, and we’ve also issued a trav­el bul­letin just indi­cat­ing to peo­ple that there is a risk of reprisals, and peo­ple need to both inter­na­tion­al­ly and domes­ti­cal­ly con­duct them­selves with the usu­al vig­i­lance. We haven’t increased our threat alert either onshore or off­shore, but, peo­ple do need to be wary. And our own trav­el bul­letin indi­cates to peo­ple they should avoid large gath­er­ings of peo­ple asso­ci­at­ed with the after­math of this event. 

CHRIS UHLMANN: Of course, what Osama bin Laden did, spawned the war in Afghanistan. We are still there a decade on. And there is no real end in sight is there.

STEPHEN SMITH: Well I was in Afghanistan last week — and I returned for the first time after a vis­it to Afghanistan with some sense of cau­tious opti­mism that we’re mak­ing progress. There’s a long way to go, but we are advanc­ing on the tran­si­tion front. It’s quite clear we’ve made up ground so far as secu­ri­ty is con­cerned. We are steel­ing our­selves for the forth­com­ing sum­mer fight­ing sea­son. But we have made progress and the tran­si­tion is being effect­ed, slow­ly but sure­ly, in Uruzgan. 

CHRIS UHLMANN: Has it been worth it? Tril­lions of dol­lars have been spent on two wars, not just one. Thou­sands of peo­ple have died on both sides. Has this been worth it? 

STEPHEN SMITH: Well star­ing down inter­na­tion­al ter­ror­ism, stop­ping Afghanistan again becom­ing a breed­ing ground for inter­na­tion­al ter­ror­ism with adverse con­se­quences for Aus­tralian fam­i­lies, whether that’s in the Unit­ed States at Sep­tem­ber 11, whether it’s in Lon­don, whether it’s in Bali, whether it’s in Jakar­ta — we see the adverse con­se­quences for Aus­tralia and the rest of the com­mu­ni­ty when we don’t take a stand against terrorism. 

CHRIS UHLMANN: Speak­ing of Jakar­ta, Abu Bakar Bashir has released a state­ment from his jail cell say­ing the jihad will con­tin­ue, then it con­tin­ues that Osama’s death does not make Al Qae­da dead. 

STEPHEN SMITH: Which is why I say, whilst we can under­stand that today is a sig­nif­i­cant set­back for Al Qae­da, it is not the end of the bat­tle. Oth­er asso­ciates will take his place in due course. 

CHRIS UHLMANN: Just very briefly Min­is­ter. Is there a dan­ger in tri­umphal­ism? Some of the images that we’ve seen out of the Unit­ed States would­n’t look out of place, some of the images that we see from oth­er cap­i­tals around the world? 

STEPHEN SMITH: I think we do have to under­stand very clear­ly that for very many peo­ple in the Unit­ed States and for some Aus­tralian fam­i­lies this will be clo­sure to a ter­ri­ble trag­ic per­son­al event where loved ones were tak­en away in the blink of an eye. They now have some clo­sure and so whilst some might describe that as tri­umphal­ism we need to under­stand the raw emo­tions that are there for a coun­try, a peo­ple, and indi­vid­ual families. 

CHRIS UHLMANN: Stephen Smith, thank you. 

STEPHEN SMITH: Thanks Chris. Thanks very much. 

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Australia 

Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →