Pakistan: Probing Questions After Bin Laden

This post is part of our special coverage The Death of Osama Bin Laden.

Three days after the assassination of Osama Bin Laden in a compound less than 2 kilometers away from the country's premier military academy, a lot of questions remain unanswered. The statement released by the Pakistan foreign office yesterday, claiming that the military and intelligence had no knowledge of the operation or the whereabouts of Osama has baffled many.It has also triggered a debate about the competency of Pakistan's government and intelligence services.

As the world media continues to criticize and demand answers from Pakistani authorities, Pakistanis have also raised similar questions and continue to discuss possible scenarios.

Blogger Saad, who writes about military technology, aircraft and asymmetric warfare, was amongst the first to share pictures of Choppers involved in the operation that killed Bin Laden:

@kursed: Chopper tail and wreckage. @aem76us @galrahn #pakistan

wreckage 4wreckage1wreckage2wreckage3

@kursed: About the US choppers performing aerial refueling on their own in Pak, would like to see how they evaded radar at such altitude.

@kursed: I don't believe you can do nape of the earth flying ‘and’ air to air refueling as well. Either one or the other explanation should be false?

@Samadk: Can confirm that the fallen helicopter was indeed a modified Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk based on the numbers on one of the recovered parts.

These are some valid questions bearing in mind the speculations around the fact that Pakistan had no role to play in the operation itself.

@Kaalakawaa:How many people that you've spoken to in Pakistan buy the official line that the ISI didn't know OBL was in Abbottabad?

@samadk: @cyalm I am starting to believe they really didn't know.

@saadbinshams: I think PK: & #US both knew about #OBL, wanted to use it for polictical gains but recent #conflict b/w #ISI#CIA resultd in covert US op.

Reporting from outside Bin Laden's compound, Samad Khurram shared some valuable insights that clarifies a lot of misinterpretations by some journalists of mainstream media:

@samadk: Osama's den wasn't in the most accessible of places: very narrow, virtually single-laned, unpaved, unleveled zig-zagging roads.

@samadk: The absence of census markers is important. Every house in a neighborhood is marked to indicate whether residents took the forms or not.

@samadk: The land around Osama's compound was all ploughed farmland. Playing cricket there would be kinda impossible#FailJournalism

On my own blog I raised similar questions with possible scenarios:

Unsurprisingly, not many fell for the explanation. The fact that the Pakistani military – who have been fighting the war on terror for the past decade – were unaware of the world’s most dangerous man living right under their nose could only suggest two things: incompetence or malice.  Neither of which are in anyway favorable to the country’s image or future. Fortunately, it became increasingly evident that the military was probably trying to do some damage control in an attempt to neutralize possible backlash. Even if we were to go by the statement that the Pakistani military did not take part in the operation itself, the fact that the operation was a collective effort is undeniable.  There is no way a 40-minute gun battle went unnoticed just round the corner from the Kakul Military Academy.

In a post titled Osama raid: ISI and Pakistani military could be just THAT stupid, Blogger Ahsan Butt expressed his opinion on the situation:

Look, if the mil-ISI knew everything there is to know about everything, there’d never be another terrorist attack in Pakistan (they’d just be restricted to Afghanistan and India). Clearly this is not the case. They are evidently caught off guard time and again. Just a couple months ago, there was a suicide bombing inside an army compound in Mardan. More relevantly, less than two years ago was the raid and hostage-taking attack at the army’s headquarters! The headquarters! And this is leaving aside all the terrorist attacks on civilians targets throughout the country that these brilliant and resourceful organizations should ostensibly have intimate knowledge of.

Sepoy on Chapati Mystery wrote a profound post reflecting on the endless criticism and hue cry over Pakistan being incompetent and therefore a dangerous country.

Salman Rushdie wants Pakistan to be declared a terrorist nation and expelled from the “comity of nations”. To Rushdie a 6 ft 4in man wandering around a country of 5 ft 8in plebeians without getting noticed is inconceivable and, hence, the entire 180 million must pay the price. They were all in the know. Keeping mum even as drones kept killing their lots; even as the Taliban kept blowing up hotels, police compounds, intelligence agency offices, shrines and hospitals; even as the US kept endorsing and supporting dictatorial power over them; even as the US kept funding their military to the tune of tens of billions while “non-humanitarian aid” was pegged to a billion or so; even as an earthquake and a flood shook their geography loose.The millions of Pakistan kept their quiet, maybe giggling in anticipation of whenever Uncle Sam would catch them in the act. Now they have been caught! The ISI knew! This validates all the drones missiles! It means MORE DRONE MISSILES! Yeah. That is what it means. They were all in it, Rushdie. Every stinking lying one of them.

In the coming weeks there will be more analysis on this situation. Some questions will be answered while others might be ignored. A lot more will be said and the Global Media & it's political pundits will dissect the situation in every way possible. Meanwhile, here is a quick reminder from my blog:

Lest the world forgets: “As many as 12,580 people were killed across Pakistan in 2010 alone, as per (HRCP)  report. 1,159 people were killed in 67 suicide attacks whereas US drones strikes were responsible for 957 extra-legal killings.”

As the facts about the operation that killed bin Laden unravel, we must brace ourselves to stand united against violence. No redemption here; not yet.

This post is part of our special coverage The Death of Osama Bin Laden.

Thumbnail images by Kursed, also now copyright Demotix.

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