Panetta: ‘Disturbing’ That Pakistan Is Punishing Doctor Who Helped US Find Bin Laden

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a Sunday interview that he’s perplexed Pakistan would punish the doctor who helped the U.S. find Osama bin Laden.

Here’s the exchange between Panetta and ABC’s Jake Tapper on ABC’s “This Week.”

PANETTA:  It’s – it is so difficult to understand and it’s so disturbing that they would sentence this doctor to 33 years for helping in the search for the most notorious terrorist in our times.  This doctor was not working against Pakistan.

He was working against Al Qaeda.  And I hope that ultimately Pakistan understands that, because what they have done here, I think, you know, does not help in the effort to try to reestablish a relationship between the United States and Pakistan.

TAPPER:  Secretary Panetta, can we call Pakistan an ally when they do something like this, when they sentence a doctor who helps the United States find bin Laden, who has killed more Muslims than I can count?  How can we call them an ally when they sentence this guy to prison? 

PANETTA:  Well, Jake, this has been one of the most complicated relationships that we’ve had, working with Pakistan.  You know, we have to continue to work at it.  It is important.  This is a country that has – that has nuclear weapons.

This is a country that still is critical in that region of the world.  It’s an up-and-down relationship.  There have been periods where we’ve had good cooperation and they have worked with us.

And there have been periods where we’ve had conflict.  But they’re dealing with the terrorist threat just like we are.

So our responsibility here is to keep pushing them to understand how important it is for them to work with us to try to deal with the common threats we both face.  And what they did with this doctor doesn’t help in the effort to try to do that.