Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics
Pakistan has launched four separate investigations into the life and death of Osama bin Laden on its soil, according to U.S. Senator John Kerry. The army, the air force and the intelligence establishment are running a probe each while parliament last week ordered an investigation by an independent commission to be set up for the purpose.
It’s not entirely clear who is investigating what but a common theme running through the probes is to find out how did the United States launch a heliborne operation so deep in the country, hunt bin Laden down in his compound after a shootout in the outer wing and fly away with his corpse, without the knowledge of the Pakistani authorities. Indeed the military and the government only got to know about it after the Americans told them once they were safely out of Pakistani airspace.
It’s, doubtless, a serious breach of Pakistan’s air and ground defences and the biggest worry for the nation’s security planners would be ensure that its eastern borders are secure, lest it gives bitter foe India any ideas of mounting an incursion of its own. It is also a failure of the intelligence agencies they didn’t know it was coming, or indeed what had happened until they were informed by the Americans. All that will be the subject of the parallel investigations.
But what about the other question that people inside Pakistan as well abroad are asking : how is it that bin Laden came to live in a town buzzing with military officers, serving and retired, and not far from the nation’s premier military academy without anyone finding out. The world’s most hunted man is found to be living not in caves in the mountains of the northwest region straddling Afghanistan, but in relative comfort in a military town, barely two hour’s drive from the office of the country’s intelligence agency. Shouldn’t that be a question the nation must ask its security establishment ? Indeed, avoiding the issue would only put the security agencies under a greater cloud of suspicion, as Pakistani commentators themselves are saying, not to mention their rather aggressive American interlocutors.