It has been a year since we, the nation, and the rest of the world found out that Osama bin Laden (OBL) was living in our own backyard.
In an ideal situation, some heads should have rolled and perhaps, the head of our premier intelligence agency should not have been given an honourable retirement and a reappointment with the government.
One year later, what is it that we know about Bin Laden living with his family in the beautiful mountains of Abbottabad, just two hours away from Pakistan’s capital?
A commission set up to probe the incident is compiling its report and will once again release a useless document. Will this report openly talk about whose fault it was? Will we come out of the closet, once and for all? I am afraid not.
And to add insult to injury, some high-ranking military friends I spoke to recently still stick to a narrative full of conspiracies about how OBL was never in that house to begin with. This narrative has been reinforced by the tight-lipped attitude of our security establishment, resulting in the Pakistani press regurgitating the American version of the narrative for lack of an alternative truth.
Even locals from Abbottabad tried to convince me that this was all an American drama in which they had perfected the script so well that even the wives of Bin Laden were involved! The Central Intelligence Agency convinced the al Qaeda chief’s wives to deceive the Pakistani interrogators and make them believe that OBL was in Pakistan.
Why is our intelligence community so obsessed with the doings of our elected leaders? And why are those who provide justice also obsessed with the civilian leadership that was put in office by the people of Pakistan? Why is the Pakistani public being held hostage to legal battles between its own institutions? We should stop engaging in political rhetoric and instead turn to the threats that Pakistan faces.
Today, the nation is more at threat from terrorism than anything else.
We have lost a great deal of lives in the name of terrorism and millions have been made refugees in the process. We continue to be attacked by militants in broad daylight, we continue to fail in prosecuting terrorists and, a year later, we have been unable to hold anyone responsible for a complete intelligence failure to locate OBL.
Our leaders cannot continue to hide such open truths from the public who put them in positions of power in the first place. Does sending Bin Laden’s family home in the middle of the night bury the episode in darkness? Does demolishing the garrison house where Osama was seeking shelter close this chapter? Are we still going to deny that within our ranks are those who are more dangerous than any external force bent on destroying Pakistan?
The country needs to unite in fighting those who covertly support terrorism, who are destroying Pakistan’s image, economy and our lives. Instead of being held hostage to political debates that are dragged in the courts where the common man is denied justice, let us first build a safer Pakistan. The rest will follow.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 2nd, 2012.
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