After months of tension between US and Pakistani agencies following the Raymond Davis affair and the capture of Osama bin Laden, it seems things may finally be coming together again. Pakistani officials announcing the capture of three key al Qaeda operatives in Quetta have gone out of their way to emphasise that this was a result of Pakistan-US cooperation. The somewhat cooled handshake between the two countries and their operatives appears to have warmed up again.
This of course is significant. Militancy has taken such deep root in the region we live in that it can only be defeated through cooperative effort. Indeed, this degree of cooperation should not be limited to any particular set of countries. It is quite possible that a great deal can be achieved by working together with India, Iran and Afghanistan as well, given the common threads of violence that run through them. The sharing of intelligence could lead to important clues as to how militants operate and what links they share.
It is also a fact that the US, over the course of its 10 year war on terror, notably against al Qaeda, has picked up a great deal of information. The fact that Pakistani authorities are willing to act on it is a good sign. The arrest of Younis alMauritani from a Quetta suburb removes from the scene a key al Qaeda figure. Some reports had suggested that he could rank third within the shadowy al Qaeda hierarchy, but such details are in some ways not relevant. The detention of alMauritani and two other high ranking al Qaeda operatives picked up with him lightens the load of dangerous terrorists harboured by our country. Perhaps even more crucially, it indicates good intention and a desire on the part of authorities to go after wanted criminals who have hidden for too many years in our midst. Others still remain to be found. Perhaps the new cooperative effort can help lead us to them, thereby making our country a slightly safer place for everyone who lives in it.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 7th, 2011.
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