The latest blow to Pakistan’s Osama policy has come in the shape of an anti-Obama book titled, Leading from Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisors Who Decide for Him. American author-journalist Richard Miniter claims that the ISI helped the US by providing vital information in locating Osama bin Laden and that Pakistan’s army chief may have been briefed on the Abbottabad raid five months in advance.
There is more damaging information alleged in the book: that the house where Osama lived was carved out of the area owned by the Pakistan Military Academy and that originally, the US and Pakistan had together concocted the story that Osama was killed by a drone but that later President Barack Obama decided not to trust Pakistan and mounted a secret operation. Of course, all or much of this may be untrue or hotly contested, but the fact also is that the rest of the world hardly ever accepts Pakistan’s position on such matters.
The account has been rejected by Pakistan. It is certain that the Obama Administration, too, will not endorse it. However, in Pakistan, the book will create waves not at all helpful in the current atmosphere of political instability and a growing trend of distrusting the army leadership. This will strengthen the resolve of the PML-N to oppose Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
The other element that will use the revelations in Miniter’s book are the proxy warriors of the Difa-e-Pakistan Council which is greatly put off by General Kayani’s decision to allow the Nato supply route to reopen. They have reacted negatively to his Independence Day declaration that the war against terrorism and extremism is Pakistan’s war. The received wisdom in Pakistan is that it is America’s war, which is actually against Islam. Retired generals come on TV channels to assert that America is in the region to rob it of its natural resources and checkmate China.
PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif’s remark that the drones killing innocent Pakistanis may still be flying from inside Pakistan with the consent of the Pakistan Army is going to further muddy the waters and spawn conspiracy theories involving America and General Kayani. The PML-N is retaliating against the perceived army policy of fielding Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf as a political replacement of the two mainstream parties in the country: the PML-N and the PPP.
General Kayani, it seems, has offended America as a policy aimed at placing him closer to the emotion of the masses in Pakistan, in no small measure fanned by his intelligence agencies. He has now offended this dominant emotion by pronouncing the forbidden formulation of ‘it is Pakistan’s war’. He may face opposition from the Punjabi Taliban, who are increasingly suspected of attacking the army in Punjab, and al Qaeda, which leads the war against America in Pakistan and elsewhere on the globe. Already, the Taliban openly state that the drones that kill their top terrorists are operated with the consent of the army. The policy on Osama bin Laden’s killing in Abbottabad was wrong from the beginning. The army should have gone along with the elected government in power and not taken on the US for ‘violating Pakistan’s sovereignty’, which the entire world knew had been earlier blown to smithereens by al Qaeda and its minions. President Asif Ali Zardari had reacted to the killing in Abbottabad through an article published in Washington Post (May 3, 2011) titled “Pakistan did its part”. It began with these words: “Pakistan, perhaps the world’s greatest victim of terrorism, joins the other targets of al Qaeda — the people of the United States, Britain, Spain, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Turkey, Yemen, Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Algeria — in our satisfaction that the source of the greatest evil of the new millennium has been silenced and his victims given justice. He was not anywhere we had anticipated he would be, but now he is gone.... The war on terrorism is as much Pakistan’s war as it is America’s.”
General Kayani has come around to that point of view but has run against a national mindset that reveres Osama as a hero.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 25th, 2012.
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