New Delhi: Pakistan’s often repeated bogey of being proactive in taking on al Qaeda and other terrorism emanating from its soil has blown in its face with the killing of Osama bin Laden.
The country’s leadership were shamed, Monday, when US President Barack Obama announced from Washington that the world’s most wanted terrorist has been killed by US ground troops in Abbottabad, sixty kilometres from Islamabad, right under the nose of Pakistan military.
Although, there are suggestions by certain sections of the Pakistani establishment that they were in the know, argument being “must have happened with our consent”.
But going by Obama’s assertion today suggesting that Pakistan had no role in the successful ‘mission kill Osama’, it seems highly unlikely that US would have trusted anyone in Pakistan with details about the impending attack.
And that the US had no qualms about going into the Pakistani territory unannounced to get their man. Obama said, “A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability….Over the years, I`ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was. That is what we`ve done. “
“But it`s important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding. Indeed, bin Laden had declared war against Pakistan as well and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people.”
“Tonight I called President Zardari, and my team has also spoken with their Pakistani counterparts. They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations. And going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates.”
However, the fact remains that Pakistan stands exposed today. The country’s leaders had repeatedly denied Osama’s presence on their soil and finally when he was located down, he turned out be holed up in one of country’s biggest garrison towns.
What is more embarrassing is that the powerful Army Chief General
Ashfaq Pervez Kayani had last month visited a military facility just yards away from the compound where Osama was living and eventually killed.
Kayani had then famously claimed that his forces had broken the "terrorist backbone".
"The terrorist backbone has been broken and Inshaallah we
will soon prevail," Kayani said in his address at a passing
out parade at the Pakistan Military Academy on April
No matter what his publics utterances be, concerns about Kayani being “less enthusiastic” about the alliance with the US has been doing the rounds for a while. As per reports, he is under pressure from his senior Generals - about half of the 11 corps commanders, the Generals who make up the senior command, have questioned the wisdom of the alliance.
Even if one were to believe that the political leadership as well as the Army Chief were in the dark about Osama’s whereabouts, the role of country’s spy agency ISI still remains under the scanner.
The US has long believed that the ISI`s longstanding links with the Haqqani militant network are at the core of Pakistan`s strained and problematic relations with the United States.
But a situation where the Army is clueless about Osama, while its spy partner goes about providing a safe house for him is “difficult” to say the least. Especially because Kayani was the chief of ISI before he took over as the Army Chief in 2007.
So were the US and its allies deliberately sent on a wild goose chase in the mountains of Tora Bora? Surprise attacks along Afghanistan-Pakistan border, drone attacks on marked out tribal dwellings at night; it’s now clear that US was fighting a wasted battle, when people in the know, knew all along that Osama is safe deep inside Pakistani territory.
The US has reasons to be worried and livid as for nearly a decade, it has paid Pakistan more than USD 1 billion a year for counterterrorism operations whose
chief aim was the killing or capture of bin Laden.
If not anything, the circumstance of bin Laden`s death will surely deepen suspicions that Pakistan has played a double game, and perhaps even
knowingly harboured the Qaeda leader.