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War by distraction

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Aerial view of bin Laden's hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan

After the announcement of the execution of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, an army garrison town in Pakistan, News 1 puts together a time-line of the events which ends:

– April 2011: Obama believed there was enough credible intelligence about Osama’s whereabouts, setting in motion US military operations.

– April 29, 2011: Obama gives final order to pursue the operation.

– May 1, 2011: Obama signs ‘kill order’ after getting intelligence confirmation.

– US Navy Seals fly to Islamabad to launch operation Sunday night.

– Navy Seals raid the compound. Launches assault in which three men – two of them Osama’s couriers and one his son – are killed. A woman being used as a human shield is also killed.

– Osama bin Laden is shot dead.

– Operation lasts about 40 minutes. There is no US casualty. Loss of a helicopter due to mechanical failure.

– US troops carry out Osama’s body to a helicopter.

– Osama buried at sea.

– Obama announces Osama bin Laden’s death to the world at 10.30 p.m

Years from now, how will the history of the early 21st century read? Can it ever become clearer that Pakistan waged an undeclared war on the US, while simultaneously receiving from it billions of dollars in military aid from the same undeclared enemy? The distraction was so effective that after the Taliban was dislodged from Afghanistan, the US spent years in a needless quagmire in Iran instead of pursuing the enemy into safe-harbour Pakistan. Pervez Musharraf, the man who is most likely to have okayed the harbouring of US’ most wanted while he was president and military chief of Pakistan, was reported by Reuters to have said:

“It’s a very positive step and it will have positive long-term implications,” Musharraf told Reuters in Dubai, where he has a home. “Today we won a battle, but the war against terror will continue.”

Musharraf said, however, that the operation infringed on Pakistan’s sovereignty: “It’s a violation to have crossed Pakistan’s borders.”

Pakistani soldier guards the encounter site in Abbottabad, Pakistan

The Afghan government could not have been happier, the Australian reports:

In a televised address, President Hamid Karzai described the killing of the al-Qa’ida leader as a “very important day”, prompting widespread applause.

“Terrorism is not in the villages of Afghanistan,” he said. “Now America and the world knows.”

Perhaps there will be increased recognition in the US of the real role that Pakistan has played in the last decade. NYT withdrew from its normal pro-Pakistan stance:

Bin Laden was not killed in the remote and relatively lawless tribal regions, where the United States has run a campaign of drone attacks aimed at Qaeda militants, where he was long rumored to have taken refuge, and where the reach of the Pakistani government is limited.

Rather, he was killed in Abbottabad, a city of about 500,000, in a large and highly secured compound that, a resident of the city said, sits virtually adjacent to the grounds of a military academy. In an ironic twist, the academy was visited just last month by the Pakistani military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, where he proclaimed that Pakistan had “cracked” the forces of terrorism, an assessment that was greeted with skepticism in Washington.

In addition, the city hosts numerous Pakistani forces — three different regiments, and a unit of the Army Medical Corps. According to some reports, the compound and its elaborate walls and security gates may have been built specifically for the Qaeda leader in 2005, hardly an obscure undertaking in a part of the city that the resident described as highly secure.

Speculation that the US will immediately pull out of Afghanistan will have to take into account contrary evidence reported by AFP:

“Our message to the Taliban remains the same, but today, it may have even greater resonance,” [Secretary of State, Hillary] Clinton told reporters. “You cannot wait us out. You cannot defeat us. But you can make the choice to abandon Al-Qaeda and participate in a peaceful political process.”

The Indian perception of Pakistan is that the country is deeply complicit in training and harbouring terrorists, while it denies this to the world at large. There is wide agreement in the Indian political establishment about intelligence which points to the fact that the civilian government, the armed forces, the intelligence agency ISI, and various terrorist organizations are closely linked. The consensus of views was reported by VOA:

India’s foreign minister welcomed the news of bin Laden’s death as a “victorious milestone” in the war against terrorism. However, the statement from S.M. Krishna said the world must press on to “eliminate the safe havens and sanctuaries that have been provided to terrorists in our own neighborhood.”

India has long been concerned about terrorist threats originating in Pakistan and Indian security forces have been put on high alert for possible reprisal attacks following bin Laden’s death.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram said in a statement, that bin Laden’s hideout located deep inside Pakistan underlines India’s concern that the country is a sanctuary for “terrorists belonging to different organizations.”

Bharat Karnad, with Delhi’s Centre for Policy Research, has advised the government for years on national security policy. He says nobody should be shocked that Bin Laden was found a few hours’ drive from Islamabad.

There are two possible futures: one in which the nexus between terrorism and the Pakistani establishment is broken, and a normal world, with a normal Pakistan, again becomes possible, and the other in which a civilian front government keeps lying in order to distract the world from the reality of the war being waged against it. With the discovery of Osama bin Laden’s hiding place, the first alternative becomes possible.


Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

May 2, 2011 at 4:15 pm

2 Responses

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  1. how can a nation which tells to the whole world that it trying to check terrorism can shield Osama for their personal motives surely ,Pakistan is international hub for terrorist

    Rahul Gupta

    May 2, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    • A hub for international terrorism is probably a more accurate description of Pakistan than an “international hub for terrorism”.

      Arhopala Bazaloides

      May 2, 2011 at 5:39 pm

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