The covert millitary operation by U.S. Vavy Seal Commandos that killed unarmed Osama Bin Laden is a huge embarrassment for Pakistan. A foreign country has carried out a major military operation deep inside its territory. Despite attempts by some Pakistani officials to claim that their military and intelligence services were involved, all the evidence indicates otherwise. The Americans say they acted alone and the Pakistani foreign ministry effectively concurs.
This incident puts a question mark on the credibility of Pakistan’s Intelligence Agencies including ISI.
Bin Laden was caught not in some mountain hide-out but in what is virtually a garrison town. The house where he lived with his family in considerable comfort almost since it was built five or six years ago, was less than a kilometer from the country’s top military academy. Moreover, house and compound were distinctly up-market and one of the larger ones in town and just across the road from a police station. It is impossible to believe no one asked questions about who was living there. The ISI had checked it out when it was first built but then it apparently “fell off the radar.” The ISI, long been accused of harboring elements sympathetic to Al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taleban, has either been grossly incompetent or it has been complicit in his presence. It has to be one or the other. There is no other explanation.
When U.S. Seal Commandos can raid in just 60 km from the military headquarters in Rawalpindi without the army knowing anything about it until it was over, what does that say about Pakistan’s ability to defend itself? Alternatively, were some officers in the know? Was there covert cooperation with the US? If so, what does that say about the military’s integrity and loyalty? There are regular reports from the US that the Pakistani Army is in fact co-operating with the US, quietly providing it with information about the location of Taleban targets so that drones can be sent in. Certainly, someone has to be providing information to the Americans.
There are difficulties for the Pakistani government. For years, there have been reports that Bin Laden was in Pakistan. The authorities consistently denied them. Its credibility is now blown apart. More importantly, certainly as far as the Pakistani public will be concerned, a foreign state has walked into their country without government knowledge, done what it wanted and walked out. Anywhere else in the world this would have resulted in a furious row, broken diplomatic relations and/or the government falling. The latter may yet happen.
Pakistan has suffered more at the hands of the Taleban and Al-Qaeda than any other country. Thirty thousand people have been killed. The military have been attacked again and again. In Swat and Waziristan, the army has fought with great courage. The war against the Taleban is not over. If it is to win, the army needs the full support of every sector of Pakistani civil society. The government has to ensure that the military’s efforts are not undermined by incompetence or an enemy within.
Pakistan Government should appoint an independent enquiry Commission to probe whether there was some secret undertstanding between some of its Intelligence and Army officials with American CIA and should overhaul of its intelligence Agencies in order to keep the cridibility of its Intelligence Agencies the world over.