Pakistan: stuck in bind

                                             

                Pakistan is clearly in a dilemma. It does not know which path it will embark on. Whether to take credit for helping the United  States in Osama’s elimination or say in, unambiguous terms, that it has no role to play in cooperating with the US in Abottabad momentous event.

                It instead of steering clear off the two opposite , is trying to forge them together. And in doing lands herself in more embarrassment and ridicule. Is it America carrot and stick that doesn’t allow it to take a firm stand on any issue. Even where its existence as a sovereign state matters. While Osama bin Ladin’s  sensational and stunning killing has opened many a chink in he armor of pakistan defense, authorities were pledging to uphold at any cost, it stands battered  badly in dignity and honor.

                Yes, there can be only two possibilities. Either Pakistan was harboring Al-Qaeda chief, giving him shelter and protection, with the full knowledge of the military and its powerful military intelligence ,ISI. Or, it was genuinely unaware of the fact that Bin Ladin was living comfortably right under its nose, next to its Kakul military academy. Either way, Pakistan is vulnerable and has to account for many questions which frighteningly are staring her in the face.

                The first possibility is the ‘most wanted person’ carrying a booty of 250 million US       dollars on his head has been living in the house  and for the last five years according to the media reports and statement of the Osama’s wife presently in the custody of Pakistan authorities. And it is hard to believe that Pakistan security agency would have remained callously indifferent to what was going on in the vicinity of its sensitive military academy facility. How come it could not have conducted a reconnaissance of the house spanned for 7 kanals of land and protected with 12 feet fortified walls with barbed wires, making it distinct from other structures. Especially during the times when military installations came under a stringe of terrorist attacks throughout Pakistan. It sounds tragically comical that the compound Osama was housed in could not have come under the scanner of security agencies at a time when Chief                 of Army Staff  General Parvez Kayani attended a parade at Kakul academy around  week  ago.

                Keeping Pakistani officials deliberately out of the loop by US in its operation to get Osama also showed that American feared that some people in security apparatus in Pakistan were harboring the Al-Qaeda leader. CIA director Leon Panetta was candid in his assertion where he said that sharing intelligence with Pakistan on Commando operation would have ‘jeopardized’ the ‘mission’.

Second possibility is that Osama’s living in the Abbotabad compound was without its knowledge. And it was purely an ‘intelligence failure’. Indeed Pakistan military intelligence has taken the refuge under very premise. ‘We had been looking for him in no-go areas’, laments the senior military official, ‘unaware that he was living so close to an installation of ours. Yes it is an intelligence failure’. But this very premise is demolished by Pakistani authorities themselves.   None other than Prime Minister  Yousuf Raza Gilani remarked that it was the failure of intelligence in the world, not just in Pakistan but  in the United States as well’ in not locating slain Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Ladin so far. One may ask when elusive leader was  found in a safe house in Gilani’s own country, what point there was to shift the blame at some other place. The ultimate intelligence failure was on part of Pakistan from where he was tracked, found and killed. One needs prudence to make a statement, in particular        from a man at the helm of affairs, when the courting Americans in the ‘war against terrorism’ has already extracted a heavy price from Islamabad.

                As I am writing these lines US National Security Adviser Tom Donilon has in a statement said that ‘Pakistan was not aware that Osama was hiding in Abotabad’. (BBC, 8 May). This assertion of a high official from US will certainly come as a relief for Islamabad to dust off the accusation leveled against her that while on one hand Pakistan is aligned with US in ‘fighting terror’, on the other it is ‘giving hospitality’ to the terrorists. This latest posturing by the Washington might ease the acrimony that has creeped up in relations between the US and Pakistan, nonetheless Pakistan authorities are not yet off the hook. They will have to answer some fundamental questions? How four US helicopter intruded in Pakistan territory and how they evaded the country’s air defense system?  It took 30 minutes for the planes to flew from Bagram air base of Afghanistan to reach at the target place of Abotabad and  the same time for return journey. forForty minutes they carried the operation. In all 100 minutes (nearly two hours) they punctured holes in the defense mechanism of Pakistan, and still could not be detected.. Moreover, why Kakul academydid not show concern on the unusual happening, booming sound of helicopter should have alerted them. They could have flashed the message in a few seconds to the military high command. Nothing of this sort was done. The Foreign office (Of Pakistan) commenting on US helicopters reaching Abotabad undetected said: ‘US helicopters entered Pakistan airspace making use of blind spots  in radar coverage due to hilly terrain. US helicopters ‘ undetected flight into Pakistan was also facilitated by mountainous terrain, efficacious use of latest technology and ‘nap-of-the-earth’ flying techniques’.

                Whatever the reason, country’s  security was compromised and gaping holes in defence system were exposed. The question is why those guilty of negligence are not put to task? Why no one from military of political leadership owns failure and resigns on moral grounds. it is a week gone by and heads of erring officials in security agencies are yet to roll off. Why? Would tomorrow the same excuses like air defence-system were jammed by the Americans and ‘nap-of-the-earth flight,’ be played when Abotabad might be repeated in some other place in Pakistan? It is time all those responsible for negligence from top to bottom in command chain be brought to book and made an example. Also Pakistan should revisit its policy of aligning with Uncle Sam that has proved disastrous for her.

                Tail Piece: – US former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger remarked in the context of Vietnam war: ‘It may be dangerous to be American enemy but to be America’s friend is fatal’. Would bruised and battered Islamabad realize the cost of this “bear hug” or, continue to act as surrogate of Uncle Sam.