By K.N. Pandita
Official circles in Pakistan took their time to react on the US helicopter attack on the hideout of Osama bin Laden culminating in his killing. A meaningless controversy has been blown up in and outside Pakistan about the complicity or not of Pakistan in the lightening operation conducted by the US commandos on Sunday night.
Everybody knows that being a strong ally of the US in war on terror Pakistan had endorsed US’ pledge to eliminate Ben Laden wherever he was. There should be no doubt in anybody’s mind that this sensitive operation could not have been accomplished without weeks and months of preparation and without the full cooperation of Pakistan.
The episode of Raymond Davis is part of the entire blue print of American Commando strike. The two ISI moles tracking Davis in Lahore had to be eliminated because they had sniffed that Davis carried extraordinarily sensitive input.
Returning to Pakistan’s formal reaction to the commando adventure, close reading of the official statement of Pakistan issued in connection with the operation will show that it is trying to play hide and seek game. The statement starts with outright denial of having any previous knowledge of the impending strike on Osama bin Laden’s den or taking any part in the actual operations. In doing so, the statement creates an impression, and for the consumption of Pakistani people, that the operation was entirely conceived, planned and executed by the Americans and that Pakistani army or air force had no role in it whatsoever.
But as the official statement proceeds, the tone and tenor changes gradually, and subtle justification for joint Pak-US operation in eliminating the source of world terrorism emerges from carefully chosen words and phrases. What are the subtleties of the statement? In the first place, the statement nowhere disapproves or resents US copter-born commandos violating Pakistan’s airspace and conducting military action in a sovereign state without its consent and permission. On the contrary, we learn that all sensitive and powerful radars monitoring incoming air planes into Pakistan’s airspace were switched off when the American helicopters came.
Secondly, the statement says: that the al-Qaeda chief’s death “illustrates the resolve of the international community, including Pakistan to fight and eliminate sources of violence.” This is clear reiteration of Pakistan’s endorsement of US’ policy towards Al Qaeda, the top most source of violence. And obviously, the statement has double meaning: it is to reassure the US of Pakistan cooperating with her in all acts aimed at eradiating terrorism, and at the same time, it is to assuage the otherwise hurt feelings of Pakistani public by telling them that the regime wants no innocent Pakistani to get killed at the hands of extremists,
Thereafter follows the crucial assertion in Pakistan’s official statement. It says: “It is Pakistan’s stated policy that it will not allow its soil to be used in militant attacks against any country. Pakistan’s political leadership, parliament, state institutions and the whole nation are fully united in their resolve to eliminate the scourge.” Look at the contradiction. Pakistan “will not allow its soil to be used in militant.”
But at the same time, Osama and his entourage remained encapsulated in a secure house close to the Pakistan’s Military Academy in Abbotabd on Pakistani soil for a long time. This secured residential complex was raised for the founder of Al Qaeda terrorist chief way back in 2005.
Let us move further. In the next sentence, the statement makes the assertion that not only the government but all the vital components of the Pakistani State became involved in the operation that eliminated Osama menace. This means that even the opposition in the parliament which constitute the leaders of hardcore radical Islamists as well, have been party to the operation. The aim of this part of the statement is to neutralize the reaction likely to emerge from Pakistani regime lending outright support to the Americans in anti-Osama strike. At the same time, it is again a commitment to the Americans that Pakistan is with them in war on terror.
Finally casting aside diplomatic nuances, the Pakistani official spokesperson came out with clear confession that “Al-Qaeda had declared war on Pakistan. Scores of Al-Qaeda sponsored attacks resulted in deaths of thousands of innocent Pakistani men, women and children. Almost 30,000 Pakistani civilians lost their lives in militant attacks in the last few years,”
This leaves no doubt that the operation was carried out with full knowledge, support and assistance of Pakistan.
The real questions that need to be answered are two: one, what is the deal between Pakistan and the US for Pakistan providing all logistical support leading to the elimination of Osama? Does it enfold Afghanistan, the region, which the US has agreed to let go into Pakistan’s exclusive sphere of influence once she withdraws from there? Is there a deal on Af-Pak and NWFP region to put an end to fighting there and float a massive reconstruction programme for the tribal people? Is there a deal on Kashmir to speed up the Track II diplomacy that is already underway? Pakistan would not have agreed to compromise her sovereignty without her pound of flesh.
The second question is whether Pakistan will be able to withstand the backlash of the killing of Osama and smashing of his hideout as humiliation of the jihadis or whether this incident unfolds the beginning of the dismemberment of Pakistan. These questions ential a serious debate and we may taken it up next time.