A death that will haunt Pakistan

Published: May 1, 2012

Behind the erosion of internal sovereignty stands the figure of dead Bin Laden threatening state's very foundations. PHOTO: FILE

A year ago on May 2, American special forces attacked the safe haven of al Qaeda’s top leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, killed him and took his body away. His death triggered reactions in Pakistan that were least expected: instead of being relieved that a man whose organisation had killed thousands of innocent Pakistanis was finally eliminated, it fell into a paroxysm of rage over the American commando operation. The country’s military establishment and, indeed many Pakistanis, felt that they had been betrayed by what they saw as a brazen assault on the country’s sovereignty. Our relations with the ally were already soured by the capture of the CIA contractor Raymond Davis in Lahore, who had killed two Pakistanis.

In fact, two ruptures took place after the attack on Osama bin Laden. Pakistan set itself on the course of ‘disengagement’ with the US; and the Pakistan Army became alienated from the incumbent PPP-led government. Then in November came the Salala incident, where American gunships killed Pakistani troops at a border check post. This caused a halt to Nato supplies through Pakistan at a crucial time in the American engagement in Afghanistan. Following this, the government in Islamabad faced the charge of treason at the Supreme Court for having conspired — through its ambassador in the US — against the Pakistan Army.

Lack of trust became the reason why the operation to ‘get Osama’ was kept secret. The Americans said that every time they shared information with the Pakistani establishment about the impending operations against the terrorists, the latter were forewarned. They felt that Pakistan wanted operations only against those elements that were killing Pakistanis in Pakistan and not against those who were attacking American and Nato targets in Afghanistan. Journalist Saleem Shahzad was mysteriously killed in Pakistan when he reported that the al Qaeda had penetrated the personnel of the Pakistan Navy. This was exacerbated by the widespread feeling in Pakistan that the war on terror, started by a now-discredited former army chief General Pervez Musharraf, was “not Pakistan’s war”.

Pakistan, too, had to answer some questions about the presence of bin Laden in Abbottabad. A judicial commission was set up which is still inquiring into his death at the time of writing. While living in Pakistan, Bin Laden was visited by his lieutenants and devotees, including his wife. The Americans say they found evidence that bin Laden communicated with Mullah Mohammad Omar, leader of the Afghan Taliban and with Lashkar-e-Taiba. International opinion is, by and large, of the view that the safe haven must have been organised on some level by elements inside the Pakistani establishment, but the US has consistently said that there is “smoking gun” to suggest that his presence was facilitated at any official level.

The facts that are known tell us that the al Qaeda is located at the top of the terror pyramid in Pakistan and the Taliban owe allegiance to it. Furthermore, elements whose presence in North Waziristan Pakistan doesn’t necessarily mind are also, unfortunately, linked to al Qaeda. The Punjabi Taliban and the non-state actors traditionally known to act abroad in favour of the state are busy distributing subversive literature produced by Ayman al-Zawahiri, the current leader of al Qaeda. After having concluded that the al Qaeda has been more or less eliminated in Pakistan, the Americans are now telling us that it is still strong after succeeding in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and even Nigeria.

On the face of it, Pakistan has other more urgent crises to overcome. There is the corruption of the executive linked to power shortage and malfunction of state institutions and politicians who are busy destabilising the country by fighting dangerous agitational battles against one another. But the real crisis which the world sees, but most Pakistanis don’t, is terrorism and the dwindling writ of the state in the face of it. Behind this erosion of internal sovereignty stands the towering figure of a dead Osama bin Laden threatening the very foundations of the state.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 2nd, 2012.

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Reader Comments (19)

  • kaalchakra
    May 1, 2012 - 10:19PM

    This is pathetic, Indian propaganda. There is no terrorism in Pakistan, and there is no evidence that Osama was really found in Pakistan. Please check your facts before spouting hatred against Pakistan.

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  • raja
    May 1, 2012 - 10:25PM

    As a pakistan newspaper ET prospective should be different if US have any thing on above link they would have used it to open supply route and demanded answers from persons or institution in question.
    off course action should be taken if any body involved (must be hanged) but blaming own country institution while country is at war both internal and external is amount to treason. ET can use it founds to from a cell to investigate about terror link, corruption by leaders and many other issue face by country why cant they investigate and come up with solid proves, many respected newspaper do all over the world
    No they will no as masters will no allow them to do shame Recommend

  • Arijit Sharma
    May 1, 2012 - 10:32PM

    ” … His death triggered reactions in Pakistan that were least expected: instead of being relieved that a man whose organisation had killed thousands of innocent Pakistanis was finally eliminated, it fell into a paroxysm of rage over the American commando operation. … “

    Nothing to lose sleep over. Do not Pakistanis celebrate invaders such as Muhammad-bin-Qasim, Abdali, Ghori ? Osama was another invader of sorts from beyond the Hindu Kush.

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  • Love Pakistan
    May 1, 2012 - 10:50PM

    very well and thought provoking editorial by ET but what can be done when most of Pakistanis close their eyes from the facts what the world is saying about Pakistan. May God guide our people and bless Pakistan.

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  • Shadowliner
    May 1, 2012 - 11:27PM

    The educated and rational thinking people of Pakistan should grow a pair and confront their government with the right questions – not ‘why was our army so inept against the American raid’ but ‘why was Osama being sheltered in the first place.’ Whichever shadowy general made the call to host Osama in Pakistan, knowingly put at risk innocent citizens he is sworn by oath to protect. Patriotic Pakistanis should also hold the government (army) accountable for the huge loss of credibility the nation has suffered globally after their constant denials since 2002 that Osama was not in Pakistan.

    The decision to host Osama has given Pakistan rivers of blood, a foreign policy disaster, and a humiliating and very public spanking by the USA. Its time the people demand those who came up with this astoundingly stupid plan be put on trial for treason. Demand some accountability people, come on!

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  • Cautious
    May 2, 2012 - 12:23AM

    May 2nd will be remembered as a day of victory for the USA and shame for Pakistan for a very long time – similar to how Pearl Harbor is resurrected every year. Pakistan had a chance to redeem itself after OBL but rather than choosing to acknowledge the obvious and clean out those elements of the “establishment” that had supported OBL you chose to lash out at the American’s who exposed your duplicity for all the World to witness. As stated – this will be an annual event for the rest of your lives – rewriting Pakistan history books and collective amnesia will not erase the shame.

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  • Mirza
    May 2, 2012 - 12:35AM

    A great editorial at the right time. Has Pakistan officially denied the American claim of OBL’s presence and killing? If not then it must be the truth.
    Has Pakistan apologized the world and showed remorse in providing safe havens to world’s worst terrorists? Or they simply want the world to keep pouring in the money while we have an open for all in our borders?

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  • May 2, 2012 - 1:46AM

    One year after Bin Laden’s death and over 10 years since 9/11, American citizens are still blindly allowing their civil liberties to be taken away one piece of legislation at a time. How much freedom are we willing to sacrifice to feel safe? Under the guise of fighting terrorism, the Patriot Act was adopted WITHOUT public approval or vote just weeks after the twin towers fell. These laws are simply a means to spy on our own citizens and to detain and torture dissidents without trial or a right to council. You can read much more about living in this Orwellian society of fear and see my visual response to these measures on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/09/living-in-society-of-fear-ten-years.html

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  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    May 2, 2012 - 1:52AM

    The responsibility of killing Osama in Abbottabad on May 02, 2011 does not lie on the shoulders of Pakistan, as he was killed by the US Navy SEAL’s in Pakistan on the instructions of US Government.

    During Soviet invasion on Afghanistan, Osama was the blue eyes boy of US Administration. and the closest friend turn into foe when the former Soviet Union armed forces withdrew from Afghanistan.

    Osama’s death will never haunt Pakistan, as was never near and dear to Pakistan.

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  • Iron hand
    May 2, 2012 - 3:12AM

    @kaalchakra: “There is no terrorism in Pakistan, and there is no evidence that Osama was really found in Pakistan.” How do you define “terrorism” and “evidence?” A truly absurd comment.

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  • Harry Stone
    May 2, 2012 - 8:49AM

    @Brandt:

    The US has an elected government. It was approved by the repersentatives of the people. Signed into law by the POTUS who was also elected by the people of the US.

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  • Raw is War.
    May 2, 2012 - 9:03AM

    @kaalchakra

    you are making a fool of yourself.

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  • faraz
    May 2, 2012 - 12:55PM

    Reading this article, I get the impression that each and every violence in Pakistan is being titled ‘Terrorism’. For God’s sake, stop it! By covering some minor groups, you are giving the importance that they don’t deserve. It’s the general state of law and order that needs to be improved. Abolish current police system and create a new one with honest and energetic youth, whether they be from military!

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  • faraz
    May 2, 2012 - 1:58PM

    @Cautious: Same old arrogant American thinking that has brought the world to this stage! Don’t forget, it were Americans who pushed Pakistan to proxy war against Russia and it’s the Americans who created and supported OBL as we know him. So the responsibility lies with you Americans, not Pakistan. Period.

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  • Surya
    May 2, 2012 - 4:02PM

    @faraz:
    “American pushed Pakistan”??? You just offered them a mercenrary army for US dollars. period..

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  • Ali Tanoli
    May 2, 2012 - 5:19PM

    @Arijit sharma,
    yes he was indeed.Recommend

  • May 2, 2012 - 6:30PM

    ” The Americans said that every time they shared information with the Pakistani establishment about the impending operations against the terrorists, the latter were forewarned. They felt that Pakistan wanted operations only against those elements that were killing Pakistanis in Pakistan and not against those who were attacking American and Nato targets in Afghanistan.”

    Exactly. Under Chapter VII resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, Pakistan has the binding sovereign obligation to root out terrorists, terror havens, and terror-training camps. In a corrupt society, however, officials act according to the credo that they can choose to ignore their duty if they wish. I suppose moral corruption is so deeply embedded in Pakistan that its officials feel outraged by the Americans’ “sovereignty violation”, conveniently ignoring the fact that by ignoring or selectively enforcing a Chapter VII resolution Pakistan has no sovereignty with regards to the war against terrorists at all.

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  • s shah
    May 2, 2012 - 9:03PM

    @faraz: one must face up to the facts if one is going to progress. it is bizarre to call the terrorism that has destroyed this country, maimed and killed thousands of people, and that is acknowledged publicly by Taliban and similar outfits as being done by them, as “minor”.Recommend

  • G. Din
    May 2, 2012 - 11:36PM

    @faraz:
    “Don’t forget, it were Americans who pushed Pakistan to proxy war against Russia “
    So, when you willingly became the member of Baghdad Pact, CENTO and SEATO, pacts which were expressly against Soviet Union, were you pushed to do so by Americans? No, you were not. You joined those pacts only to qualify to receive free military aid. Duplicitous as always, you thought it was a smart way to arm against India. All your wars were fought with those arms. Even so not a lot of precious good that deceitful behaviour did to you. You were routed in every one of them in spite of those sophisticated arms. Have some self-respect, please!

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