The Death of Osama
By Dr Ghayur Ayub
The Abbotabad attack on May 2 nd put many Pakistanis in shame. They felt like this back in 1971 when half of the country was lost and over 90 thousands Pak army soldiers surrendered. But there is a difference between the two feelings of shame. This time, without losing part of the country, the state sovereignty was blighted dropping the anvil on the government and army/ISI. In this article I will highlight on three points.
First, was OBL a sectarian fanatic like his followers in the Taliban? Second, are there any discrepancies in the findings by the White House and our army team? Third, what could be the possible fallout of this attack?
When Gen Kayani took over as Army Chief, the army image was at the lowest ebb because of Gen. Musharaf 's policies. Gen. Kayani cleansed this image in a short span of time. His success against the Taliban in the Swat operation, his role in helping the victims of the floods, and his stand on the Kerry Lugar Bill or presentation on war on terror in Brussels proved that the Pak army can achieve its goals militarily, socially and politically. He also played the role of a wise man in the restoration of Ch Iftikhar as CJP. However, when the newly liberated judiciary started interfering in the malpractices of the executive, some important political figures started feeling the pinch. According to reports in the media, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari had complained to the Americans about the Army's interference in his work. The Army, which already had an unhealthy relationship with a few opposition parties, became a soft target for the government.
The relationship between the CIA and the ISI was strained in December 2010 when a federal court in America made the ISI a party in a case pertaining to the Bombay terrorist attack of November 2008. Obama's government did not help the ISI in the case, infuriating the agency. A few weeks later, Karim Khan from North Waziristan filed a lawsuit in the Peshawar High Court against the CIA station chief Jonathan Banks, on charges of providing operational guidance for the drone attacks which killed his son and brother. Americans saw ISI's hand in the case and hurriedly recalled Mr.Banks from Pakistan. As if that was not enough, Raymond Davies' arrest put Obama, his administration and CIA on the mat. The blame was attributed to the ISI. The world saw the intelligence agency playing a superior spy game beating its American counterpart and for that matter the Obama administration. After a day-long exclusive meeting between the army chiefs of the two countries in Oman, Raymond Davies was released. The Army/ISI which always had a cozy relationship with the Americans became the hard target and the Americans started waiting for an opportune time to hit back.
According to reports, the precursor to May 2 nd episode started when the ISI passed on information to CIA about infrequent suspicious messages on financial transactions through an SIM. One of the messages was sent from the house where OBL lived. It was then that the CIA agents who were given visas by Hussain Haqqani without ISI clearance rented a nearby house and started collecting human intelligence about the occupants. Once they confirmed the high-value target could be OBL, they started waiting for the time to attack. May the 2 nd turned out to be perfect for the following reasons:
It was this very day eight years ago when George Bush announced 'mission accomplished'.
The deadline for the passage of American budget is on August the 2 nd.. Because of strong Republican opposition any obstacle could adversely affect the war on terror in Afghanistan.
The Al-Qaeda attacks in Afghanistan increase from this month onwards.
Obama's falling rating .
The planned American reduction of forces in July was coming closer.
The performance record of ISI vis-a-vis CIA was spiralling up.
A well designed plan was executed excellently by Navy Seals achieving most of the targets severely damaging the image of Pak Army and ISI . The rest is history. According to news reports the CIA personnel who rented the nearby house have vacated the property leaving no evidence behind.
Irrespective of whether OBL was killed on May 2 nd or died before, one thing is clear that he is officially dead confirmed by his own group, Al-Qaeda. After this background, let me take up the first point - whether OBL was a sectarian fanatic Muslim or not. A good number of Pakistanis believe he was not. Those who met him say that he kept a delicate balance between his living in Afghanistan as guest of the Taliban and their sectarian beliefs putting him in a precarious position. They say he tried to help the Taliban government in business deals with foreign governments and large corporations. After interfering in a major oil deal between Taliban and a known US corporation his relations with the Americans deteriorated from bad to worse. He announced jihad against America and promised to make Americans feel scared all over the world snatching away the feeling of freedom they like flaunting. In doing so he wanted to become a legend in Islamic history. Time will tell whether he succeeded in his aims.
As for the second point, so far we have seen many discrepancies in reports issued by the White House. Enoughhas been written on that and the list keeps piling up everyday. As reported, the military investigative team is busy making its own findings. Let us wait for those findings and see if more discrepancies surface. Most probably the report will try to blacken the picture painted by the Americans. But one thing makes political sense that both CIA and ISI know that they need each other in the war on terror just like American political forces want Pakistan on their side in this war. At the same time the Americans would like to keep Pakistan and its Army under pressure at a level that it does not go out of hand and erupt as street protests as in the Middle East and North Africa. That would be a disaster for the American interests in the region.
The third point pertains to the possible fallout of May 2 nd incident which could take the shape of:
The Army clearing its image through its own investigation and recover from its fallen grace.
Resurfacing of workable relation between ISI and CIA.
Heating up political tension between politicians.
The government nosediving in popularity especially after the budget. Increase in the drone attacks;
Increase in the terrorist attacks.
The fear of a technocrat government recently expressed by Asif Ali Zardari becoming a reality. In other words, the Abbotabad hammer might fall on the political government. After all, in the past the Ojhri camp disaster fallout was experienced by the Junejo government and the Kargil debacle brouhjt reverses for the Nawaz Sharif government. The Americans usually prefer the Army over the political set-up in Pakistan. But keeping the present global environment in mind, they do not want to see the Army taking over the driving seat. So they wouldn't mind seeing the May 2 nd attack on Osama becoming a prelude to a much talked about technocrat government provided the process is carried out without violating the Constitution of Pakistan.