May 2, 2011

Osama bin Laden is finally dead

Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbotabad by US 
Navy SEALs
Earlier today I posted a sarcastic blog that many people took wrongfully as my opinion on the whole OBL saga. Yes, from now on Osama bin Laden will be shortened to OBL because it's too long to type his complete name. So this second post will now serve two purposes: 1) What I feel about OBL's death, and what the general Pakistani population is saying and 2) it will help to put my earlier post (which was a sarcastic take on the whole OBL phenomenon) into perspective.

President Obama in a late night address "confirmed to the American people, and to the world" that the most wanted terrorist in the US had been killed by US troops in a raid inside of Pakistan. The raid was conducted by Navy SEALs who were flown in from Afghanistan. Official reports suggest a gunfight took place for over 40 mins before OBL's body was loaded into one of the two modified MH-60 helicopters (the other was destroyed by the SEALs after having developed some technical faults) and flown back to Afghanistan.

A lot of people in Pakistan (yours truly included) couldn't care less as to what happened to OBL. Yes, he is a good riddance. But frankly, it doesn't affect our lives any more than the rabid dog who roams Lahore's streets at night. There will be no let up in the harassment by the security forces in the name of "security"; the roads that were closed and permanently sealed due to "security threats" will not be opened; the army will continue to  lord over us like it has forever and as a whole, there will be no tangible improvement in the commoner's life in Pakistan.

But then there are those people who believe that OBL died in 2002 of some disease. Now these people are of the category who believe that since Obama was worried about the upcoming US Presidential elections in 2012, the billions of dollars being wasted in Afghanistan and finding a face saving solution to the problem, he declared OBL's death now. On the other hand there are those people, who instead of believing that OBL died in 2002 believe that he is still alive since his dead body was not shown to the media, nor any photos or videos were released to the public. Also, his rather hurried burial at sea just lent fuel to the wild speculations and confusion surrounding OBL's death.

Regardless of whether OBL died in 2011 or 2002, one thing is for certain now. OBL is dead or else, the world's most powerful man would not have taken the liberty of making a claim that he knew was false. A friend from the US asked me about the reaction of the people within Pakistan. Well, the reaction of the people can be gauged from the fact that even though they are not mourning OBL's death, they still have not become chums of the US. In fact, many are now predicting that the next battlefield that the US would open up would be in Pakistan, hence they are highly sceptical and on the defensive vis-a-vis the US policies that will emerge after the dust clears.

But now, onto something that has left me baffled. We are a country that has been forced to take pride in its military. In fact, General Kayani even told the world that this country will not sacrifice its honour for prosperity. In a rather excellent blog post by Kala Kawa it clearly emerges that the Pakistani military thinks of itself as something of a demigod. Then how was it that the Pakistani military couldn't spot OBL who was living just 4km away from the Pakistan Military Academy? Is this a massive communication and intelligence failure? If it is (and exceedingly it appears to be one) the Pakistani military will have to take face saving measures and in that case, some heads will roll. My suggestion, chop off all the generals who had their tenures extended. They've all failed us. But if this wasn't an intelligence failure, and the Pakistani military knew exactly where OBL was, why didn't it take action? Were they waiting for the Americans to violate our sovereignty? In which case, bravo gentlemen, bravo!

What is even more embarrassing is that the Pakistani military did not conduct a joint operation with the Americans to rid the world of OBL. It was the Americans alone. The Pakistani military is yet to condemn the US for violating its airspace, and just to set the record straight, how come the Pakistan Air Force radars not pick up unidentified aircraft over its airspace?

The Pakistani populace has shown a generally mild response to OBL's death. Yeah, he's dead. Who cares? And they've shown the same mild response to the Americans violating Pakistan's sovereignty by conducting a full fledged military operation just 130km from Islamabad. Surprising.

So that's the Pakistani perspective on the whole Osama bin Laden saga. For the American perspective, you might want to read this blog post by Nick Kristof, the world renowned reporter of the New York Times.