The question stems from the fact that USA invaded Afghanistan in search of perpetrators with 9/11 connections. Osama Bin Laden was believed to be an aide of 9/11 perpetrators.

Pakistan believed to have been sheltering Osama Bin Laden which makes Pakistan a perpetrator, too.

Why didn't Pakistan face any sanction from the USA in this regard?

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    If memory serves, the official story back then was that Pakistan did not know where Osama Bin Laden was hiding. Did something change? Is there any concrete evidence that Pakistan has been sheltering Osama Bin Laden?
    – yannis
    Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 14:24
  • @yannis, well, Novichok case doesn't have any concrete and decisive evidence either.
    – user17569
    Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 14:53
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    @why Are you suggesting countries should be retaliating without concrete and decisive evidence?
    – user_42
    Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 15:10
  • @user_42, Novichok case doesn't have any concrete and decisive evidence either.
    – user17569
    Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 15:39
  • 2
    I agree. To be clear, I believe it would have been wrong to sanction Pakistan without concrete evidence as I believe it is wrong to punish Russia without concrete evidence. You seem to bring the novichok case up as if it would justify the placing of sanctions on Pakistan without concrete evidence. I was questioning whether that is your implication.
    – user_42
    Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 15:46

3 Answers 3


Pakistan has been considered a U.S. ally since the cold war. They didn't face any repercussion from sheltering Bin Laden in order to maintain that status and avoid a lot of uncomfortable truths for both nations. The entire raid on Bin Laden's compound was done without notifying/getting permission from Pakistan, which could easily be construed as an act of war. The U.S. never formally stated Pakistan was harboring Bin Laden in part for them ignoring the U.S. raid violating a lot of laws/agreements.

Russia is a very different situation for a lot of reasons.

  • They aren't/weren't an ally post cold war.
  • They invaded a sovereign country the U.S. had a defense pact with.
  • Interfering with elections is a pretty big deal to the country that it happens to. There are a whole lot of countries that don't like the U.S. because of this.
  • Attempted assassination of an ex-spy in a foreign country is very similar to what the U.S. did with Bin Laden, only Russia didn't have any leverage over the U.K.
  • Are you implying US was scared of Pakistan's retaliation or essentially what you're saying is Afghanistan was bombed to hell because US felt it was right and Pakistan wasn't even sanctioned, as again US felt it was the right thing to do. I don't recall when was the last time US led NATO strikes, sought permission for decimating weaker nations? Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 17:08
  • What's this about Russia? I'm from the future, so what's topical to you isn't necessarily topical to me.
    – bobsburner
    Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 15:44
  • 3
    @bobsburner the question was edited to remove reference to Russia after this answer.
    – Ryathal
    Commented Feb 21, 2020 at 12:54
  • Ah, I missed that.
    – bobsburner
    Commented Feb 21, 2020 at 12:59

If you go by the officially published facts, nothing was revealed that directly showed that Pakistan was aware of bin Laden's presence, or that Pakistan made an effort to conceal bin Laden.

The US raid was carried out without even notifying Pakistan ahead of time, let alone get their permission to carry out combat operations in their country, which is essentially an act of war.

So, officially Pakistan was unaware of bin Laden's presence, and action against their government isn't called for because officially, they weren't actively sheltering him.

What actually happened may be a different matter. There are several aspects of the official narrative that don't make sense, such as how the large fortress like compound where bin Laden was living could be built near a Pakistan army base and not draw the attention of Pakistan's ISI, one of the better spy agencies in the world.

  • So in reality Pakistan knew where he was they just weren't gonna say and make it look like they didn't know
    Commented Jul 22, 2021 at 15:26

Although it wasn't for Osama Bin Laden specifically, as a result of general dissatisfaction with Pakistan's counter terrorism efforts aid to Pakistan was withheld, and such aid was given stricter requirements before can it be provided to the Pakistani government.

This Congressional Research Service report from June, 2012 details various laws regarding aid to Pakistan prior to 2012, as well as the freezing of a minimum of 60% of aid previously allocated to the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Fund(PCF):

H.R. 1540 was introduced in the House on April 14, 2011. The House passed it on May 26...

Section 1220 of the bill stipulates that not more than 40% of FY2012 appropriated amounts for PCF may be obligated or expended until the Secretary of Defense, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, submits an annual report to the relevant defense committees in the House and Senate, and to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations...

That report had several requirements before funds could be released(only a few notable sections are quoted here):

At a minimum, the report shall include

(iii) a discussion of the gaps in capabilities of Pakistan security units that hamper the ability of the government of Pakistan to take action against the organizations listed;

(iv) a discussion of how assistance provided using PCF will address the gaps in capabilities;

(vii) metrics used to track progress of the government of Pakistan in listing terrorist organizations, address capability gaps, and counter IEDs.

Essentially, the majority of aid to Pakistani counterinsurgency operations was frozen for 2012, until it was determined that the money was actually being used effectively and Pakistani counterinsurgency efforts could be properly examined.

A prior law, established in May 2011 and just a few weeks after Bin Laden was killed, allowed the Secretary of State to freeze funds at any time if they felt the government of Pakistan was not cooperating with counterterrorist efforts(again, some sections removed for brevity):

H.R. 2055 was introduced on May 31, 2011 as the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs funding measure...

Section 7046(c)(1)(A) (Pakistan Certification) states that none of the funds appropriated by this act may be made available to the government of Pakistan unless the Secretary of State certifies to the House and Senate appropriations committees that the government of Pakistan is

(i) cooperating with the United States in counterterrorist efforts against Haqqani Network, the Quetta Shura Taliban, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Al Qaeda, and other domestic and foreign terrorist organizations, including taking steps to end support for them and preventing them from basing and operating in Pakistan and carrying out cross border attacks into neighboring countries;

(ii) not supporting terrorist activities against U.S. or coalition forces in Afghanistan, and Pakistan military and intelligence agencies are not intervening extra-judicially into political and judicial processes in Pakistan;

(iv) preventing the proliferation of nuclear-related material and expertise;

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