For the United States, Bin Laden is history. He is an after-thought. And it is almost certain that the Central Intelligence Agency has moved onto its next target. But for Pakistan, the death of the terrorist kingpin is not over as U.S policy makers debate Islamabad’s role in the war on terrorism.
Since the news of Bin Laden’s death, Islamabad’s elites are being attacked and accused of harboring a famed terrorist leader. In his latest piece for The Daily Beast, Salman Rushdie boldly stated that Pakistan should be declared a terrorist state for playing a “deadly game” with America unless Pakistan’s intelligence apparatus, or the ISI, can offer “satisfactory answers.” Rushdie is right to demand an answer but wrong to insist that Pakistan be isolated for protecting proxies and pariahs.
Less than a week after Bin Laden’s death, there are important details that have emerged that need to be answered. When did Bin Laden arrive in Abbottabad? Why did the local owner of the compound rent the home to an individual in Waziristan? Why did a rival to the once-deadly-terrorist leader of the Pakistani Taliban Baitullah Masud live in the same compound? And why was there indication that the compound was being expanded? What we have are details of a deadly mystery. What we do not have is any indication that Pakistan’s senior leadership had knowledge that al Qaeda’s elite moved to and from Abbottabad.
Immediate answers to the “after-Bin-Laden” mystery case have yet to be provided. We have to accept that the details about the legendary terrorist leader that will likely unfold over the coming days may not satisfy the American or Pakistani public. Newspaper sensationalism over who-knew-and-why adds to the fury inside both countries and detracts from the more important facts.
We should focus on what we do know. Bin Laden, and hundreds of other senior and low-level al Qaeda members, have been apprehended inside Pakistan with joint cooperation among the CIA and ISI. The kill-and-capture of al Qaeda operatives is a win-win situation for both countries. Mission accomplished.