At home, in Abbottabad
Our military and intelligence agencies are not naïve and they are known to be good at their job.
Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani was at the Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul in Abbottabad on April 24 where he told the graduating cadets of this prestigious military institution that the country will soon overcome the problem of terrorism. And from the events of May 1 and 2, it seems that Osama bin Laden wasn’t all that far away as the general made his speech to the PMA cadets.
Now whether what the army chief said was prophetic or not, there are several questions that I, as a Pakistani, would like to have answered. Our military and intelligence agencies are not naïve and they are known to be good at their job. A recent New York Times article quoted Dennis C Blair, a former American director of national intelligence as saying:
“The ISI jams the CIA all it wants and pays no penalties.”
The question that comes to mind is that how could the intelligence agencies not have known that Osama bin Laden was staying in Abbottabad, especially given that the army chief spoke at the PMA there recently. If the agencies knew and did nothing, or if they didn’t know, either situation shows them in a not-so-favourable light.
Meanwhile, for the Americans to fly in some 200 kilometres from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and conduct a surgical strike less than a hundred kilometres from the capital to kill Osama bin Laden lays to rest any and all claims that our country’s sovereignty is intact.
US President Barack Obama, in his address, said the operation was conducted exclusively by American forces and the Pakistani government was informed once it was over. So even if the Americans had some level of pre-operation cooperation with the military and intelligence, it clearly felt no imperative to inform the civilian government, leave alone keeping it in the loop. That should put to rest all illusions of Parliament having any sovereignty.
That said, Osama’s death is a major relief. But I’m not entirely sure if this is a moment for Pakistanis to celebrate or ask our military establishment to answer these questions since no one else seems to even have a clue about this.