All eyes on Pakistan

Almost no one believes that the ISI could not have known of Bin Laden’s whereabouts.

Now that Bin Laden has gone to a watery grave, attention is focused on the role of Pakistan. Almost no one believes that he could have rented a mansion in Abbottabad, within a mile of "Pakistan's Sandhurst", without the knowledge of the Pakistani secret service (the notorious ISI).

Ming Campbell and Rory Stewart are among the British politicians who have argued that it is not credible for Pakistan to claim it did know where Bin Laden was hiding.

Elsewhere, Amrullah Saleh, the former head of Afghanistan's national security directorate, has declared: "Does Pakistan want the whole world to believe that the intelligence agency of a nuclear state did not know OBL was there?"

In an apparent attempt to deter suspicion, the ISI claimed joint responsibility for the operation but, as Barack Obama said in his statement, it was carried out by a "small team of Americans". He did, however, state that "our counterterrorism co-operation with Pakistan helped lead us to Bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding".

But, during a White House press briefing on the raid, a senior administration official pointedly noted that "we shared our intelligence on this Bin Laden compound with no other country, including Pakistan". He added: "That was for one reason and one reason alone: we believed it was essential to the security of the operation and our personnel. In fact, only a very small group of people inside our own government knew of this operation in advance."

In other words, the US simply did not trust Pakistan with the information.

UPDATE: Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan's main opposition leader, tells the Guardian: "It is very worrying that after ten years this man could only be captured in an operation that was kept secret from the Pakistani intelligence service. Just a few weeks ago, the Pakistanis were insisting that the US military and intelligence operations should be stopped in Pakistan and their agents should leave the country."

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Why relations between Theresa May and Philip Hammond became tense so quickly

The political imperative of controlling immigration is clashing with the economic imperative of maintaining growth. 

There is no relationship in government more important than that between the prime minister and the chancellor. When Theresa May entered No.10, she chose Philip Hammond, a dependable technocrat and long-standing ally who she had known since Oxford University. 

But relations between the pair have proved far tenser than anticipated. On Wednesday, Hammond suggested that students could be excluded from the net migration target. "We are having conversations within government about the most appropriate way to record and address net migration," he told the Treasury select committee. The Chancellor, in common with many others, has long regarded the inclusion of students as an obstacle to growth. 

The following day Hammond was publicly rebuked by No.10. "Our position on who is included in the figures has not changed, and we are categorically not reviewing whether or not students are included," a spokesman said (as I reported in advance, May believes that the public would see this move as "a fix"). 

This is not the only clash in May's first 100 days. Hammond was aggrieved by the Prime Minister's criticisms of loose monetary policy (which forced No.10 to state that it "respects the independence of the Bank of England") and is resisting tougher controls on foreign takeovers. The Chancellor has also struck a more sceptical tone on the UK's economic prospects. "It is clear to me that the British people did not vote on June 23 to become poorer," he declared in his conference speech, a signal that national prosperity must come before control of immigration. 

May and Hammond's relationship was never going to match the remarkable bond between David Cameron and George Osborne. But should relations worsen it risks becoming closer to that beween Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. Like Hammond, Darling entered the Treasury as a calm technocrat and an ally of the PM. But the extraordinary circumstances of the financial crisis transformed him into a far more assertive figure.

In times of turmoil, there is an inevitable clash between political and economic priorities. As prime minister, Brown resisted talk of cuts for fear of the electoral consequences. But as chancellor, Darling was more concerned with the bottom line (backing a rise in VAT). By analogy, May is focused on the political imperative of controlling immigration, while Hammond is focused on the economic imperative of maintaining growth. If their relationship is to endure far tougher times they will soon need to find a middle way. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.