Secretary of Defense Robert Gates speaks with General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Pakistan's military chief, before a plenary session of the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue Meeting at the State Department in Washington on October 22, 2010. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg | License Photo
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, May 9 (UPI) -- Gen. Ashfaq Kayani's first concern on hearing about the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound was Pakistan's nuclear sites, a source told The Wall Street Journal.
The Pakistani military chief was in his residential study in Rawalpindi when he was called about 1 a.m. to be told a helicopter had crashed in Abbottabad, the Journal reported, quoting a person familiar with Kayani's reaction to the raid.
It was in Abbottabad, northeast of the capital Islamabad where U.S. forces killed the al-Qaida leader during a predawn raid on his compound May 2.
The source told the Journal Kayani quickly concluded the helicopter must have been a foreign one that had breached Pakistani defenses as Pakistani choppers seldom fly at night.
The report said the general immediately was concerned for the safety of Pakistan's nuclear missile installations, one of them being only a few dozen miles from Abbottabad.
Kayani called Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman, who scrambled two U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets from a nearby air base, but the U.S. choppers already were out of Pakistani airspace, the Journal said, quoting Pakistani officials.
About 4 hours later, Kayani was informed on a secure line by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. joint chiefs, that a Navy SEALs team had flown deep into Pakistan, killed Osama bin Laden and returned to Afghanistan without alerting Pakistani authorities, the report said.
Although the entire incident has embarrassed Pakistan's intelligence service, U.S. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon has said he has seen no evidence Pakistan was aware bin Laden had been living in Abbottabad for five years.
"Terrorists strike across the country with impunity; now it seems that external forces can also enter undetected," said a Sunday editorial in Pakistan's leading Dawn newspaper.
"An inquiry is needed not only into the recent intelligence failures but also the gaps in the defense and security system. It is hard, after all, to overlook the huge percentage of GDP that is swallowed up by the defense budget, and at a tremendous cost. Are Pakistanis getting what they're paying for?"