What? Is Osama Dead?
By Dr Ghulam M. Haniff
St Cloud, Minnesota
Once again Pakistan became a joke in the eyes of the world as it has been on several occasions in the past. For most Americans Pakistan is not a country to be trusted and are already demanding that the so-called ally be dumped.
To them India makes a better partner, is trustworthy, and has those attributes that Americans value most such as democracy, economic growth and industrial development.
The occasion for these sentiments was the locating of Osama Bin Laden hiding in plain sight, in an affluent garrison town, hardly fifty miles from Islamabad, the nation’s capital. The US special-forces did not receive much help from the elitist intelligence agency of Pakistan, the reputed Inter-Services Intelligence, the ISI. As resourceful as they are the Americans tracked Osama on their own. When they found him he was shot in the head and the body carted away to be dumped in the Arabian Sea. He is said to have been given an Islamic burial but that point is being contested by the Islamic clerics.
The ISI did not have a clue where Osama was hiding until shown by the Americans. For many years the government of Pakistan denied knowing the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden. The newly appointed spymaster, Ahmad Shuja Pasha, also did not have a clue and could not direct the CIA where to go. Leon Panetta said that the Pakistani agency was incompetent.
Many Pakistanis probably have no idea that their country has been caught in a major embarrassment and its political leaders, both inside and outside of the government, are considered to be pathological liars.
Osama bin Laden lived in a million dollar mansion that had many unusual features likely to attract attention of anyone versed in intelligence work. The building was an anomaly for its design and architecture. It was located only a few blocks from Kakul Military Academy, the West Point of Pakistan. The city of Abbotabad houses the headquarters of several regiments and among their personnel are high-powered generals and intelligence analysts. All of these within walking distance of the Osama mansion.
Just a week earlier General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the chief-of-staff of the armed forces, in a major speech at the Kakul Military Academy proclaimed that Pakistan had “cracked” the forces of terrorism. None of those listening in Washington believed him.
Despite military specialists in the country helicopters flying overhead on the night of May I, 2011 remained undetected. No one even suspected anything out of the ordinary even though these aircrafts make a lot of noise. When the firefight began no one got out to investigate. No wonder Pakistan has lost all the wars that it ever fought.
The Pakistani military is considered to be the most modern and efficient institution in the country. If that is true then what about the other national institutions?
Amazingly, the American helicopters flew for almost half an hour over the Pakistani territory but the noise did not awaken anyone, not even the air force or the military. The flight violated the Pakistani territorial integrity or its sovereignty but no one communicated that message to the authorities. The invading force landed at the Osama compound without incident, did their job in less than one hour, and returned with the lifeless body of bin Laden.
Because of Pakistan’s untrustworthiness it was never informed of the flight prior to its take-off. The nation was simply left out of the loop. The action taken was a monumental disgrace for the country and a kick in the pants of Asif Ali Zardari and Yusuf Raza Gilani. In order to save his skin Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani argued that there was “an intelligence failure of the whole world, not just Pakistan alone.” He tried to blame his shortcoming on others. People like that would be hanged in China.
Writing in the Washington Post Op-Ed column Zardari tried to give his spin on the affair by saying that the US acted on the intelligence furnished by Pakistan as did Ambassador Hussain Haqqani in an interview on CNN but the Obama administration had a different, and more believable, narrative.
No one in Pakistan’s officialdom has been able to tell a creditable story.