By Sajjad Shaukat
Top Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was killed in a nighttime helicopter raid by US covert forces in Pakistan’s city, Abbottabad on May 2, 2011 at 1:15 am, ending a decade-long manhunt for the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks. US media reports revealed that Bin Laden’s body was buried at sea, in a bid to prevent his final resting place from becoming a shrine for extremists.
In a late night address, US President Obama disclosed “Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al-Qaeda.”
Obama also said that he had called Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari after Bin Laden’s death and said cooperation with the US anti-terror ally had helped lead American forces to the terror chief. On the same day, the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton while pointing out that “our counter-terrorism cooperation over a number of years now with Pakistan contributed greatly to our efforts to dismantle Al-Qaeda…in fact, Pakistan’s intelligence helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound in which he was hiding.”
In this connection, some US officials also admitted that Pakistan was not informed about the operation. However, this operation was conducted in accordance with declared US policy that Bin Laden will be eliminated in a direct action by the US forces, wherever found in the world.
It is notable that on May 3, a statement of Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said, “Pakistan expresses its deep concerns and reservations over the manner in which the US carried out this operation without prior information from the government of Pakistan.” The statement explained, “The flow of intelligence, indicating some foreigners in the surroundings of Abbottabad, continued till mid April 2011…it is important to highlight that taking advantage of much superior technological assets, CIA exploited the intelligence leads given by us to identify and reach Osama Bin Ladin.”
Nevertheless, US should increase the economic and military aid of Pakistan because they reached the compound of Bin Laden with the intelligence provided by Islamabad as realized by the President Obama and Ms. Clinton. But, quite contrarily, some US law-makers and officials are considering the suspension of the aid of Pakistan. In this regard, on May 3, President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan remarked that Bin Laden lived in Pakistan compound 5 to 6 years and as to why Pakistan’s security and intelligence agencies were unaware of his presence.
Chairman of the US Armed Services Committee, Senator Carl Levin has said that Pakistan’s military and intelligence communities have a lot of explaining to do regarding how long Osama bin Laden was hiding out in a compound about 1,000 yards from a military base in Abbotabad. France’s Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said, “I find it a little difficult to imagine that the presence of someone like Bin Laden in a relatively small town could go completely unnoticed.” Notably these statements are also quite opposite to those of Obama and Ms. Clinton.
It is mentionable that during war against terrorism, Pakistan has sacrificed more than any country in terms of collateral damage, economic losses and political instability. In this respect, more than 30, 000 people died in various incidents of terrorism. Besides, more than 5, 000 military soldiers and 2,000 policemen were martyred in this different war against terrorism, while Pakistan faced a continued wave of suicide attacks, bomb blasts and targeted killings including missile attacks by the CIA-operated predators.
On the one hand, Pakistan’s armed forces broke the backbone of the Taliban militants through successful military operations which still continue in some tribal areas, while on the other, country’s intelligence agency, ISI arrested renowned Taliban commanders including other militants and masterminds of Al-Qaeda, namely Khalid Sheikh, Abu Faraj etc. In this respect, Interior Minister, Rehman Malik has said on May 2 that ISI has castigated more than 2,000 suicide attacks. In this context, on the one side, American high officials have admired Pakistan, while on the other they have continued their blame game against our security forces and intelligence agencies.
Now after the death of Osama, which triggered celebrations across the US, India, Israel and some western countries—by ignoring the sacrifices of Pakistan regarding war against terrorism, a deliberate propaganda campaign has started against Islamabad. In this context, a blame game against Pakistan Army and ISI has been revived especially by the US and Indian media. Sometimes, they accuse Pak army and ISI of alleged ties with the Taliban, sometimes they accuse them of cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan and sometimes they blame that Al-Qaeda leaders have taken shelter in Pakistan.
The fact of the matter is that even after his death; Washington wants to make Osama, the scapegoat of US multiple aims. As regards Pakistan, firstly, with the help of Indo-Israeli lobbies, US will distort the image of Pakistan in the comity of nations, which it has already started. Secondly, America can increase drone attacks on Pakistan—also by extending their areas, which are likely to include Balochistan and other major cities of the country.
Thirdly, without bothering for any internal backlash inside Pakistan, America can intensify its pressure on Islamabad by emphasizing its old policy to ‘do more’ against the militants. Fourthly, Washington is likely to ask Pakistan to rollback its nuclear programe and to hand over its all nuclear weapons to the US. Fifthly, in case of refusal to act upon American demands, US can conduct full-fledged aerial strikes on Pakistan—its nuclear and military installations and religious institutes (Madrassas).
Apart from the above aims, under the pretext of Bin Laden’s death, the US wants to fulfill some other purposes. Either, it will reduce its military from Afghanistan to the minimum level or is likely to withdraw its all forces in accordance with the announced schedule.
Notably, American cost of war against terrorism which has reached approximately 7 trillion dollars is increasing rapidly—decline of dollar, increasing prices of oil and acute recession inside the country have given a greater blow to the US economy vis-à-vis other developed countries. In such a scenario, American public was particularly worried about the failed campaign in Afghanistan. So Osama’s death could be used to distract the attention of its general masses from internal crisis, and can also be used for re-election of Obama as president.
Most propably Washington could attribute its defeatism in Afghanistan with Pakistan as American high officials and media have accelerated propaganda against Pakistan’s tribal areas, calling them safehavens of terrorism and its intelligence agencies regarding support to Afghan insurgency.
During his latest trip to Islamabad on April 20, this year, US Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen blamed that Pakistan should take action against the Haqqani network in North Waziristan—the most difficult part of the US-Pakistani relationship. He further revealed, “The ISI has a long-standing relationship with the Haqqani network…which is supporting, funding, training fighters that are killing Americans and killing coalition partners” in Afghanistan.
While, Islamabad has already made it clear that army is engaged in other tribal areas, so it cannot attack the militants of North Waziristan.
We should remember that before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a deliberate disinformation campaign was launched by the CIA all over the world that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destructions (WMDs). For that purpose, CIA also funded and used some American and western media. In that respect, a self-fabricated report was prepared by CIA about Iraq.
Afterwards, Iraq was attacked and occupied by the Anglo-American forces, but no WMDs were found. In fact, under the cover, main aim of Washington was to occupy the oil resouces of that country.
It is noteworthy that in the end of April this year, Washington Post, published a report, indicating that General David H. Petraeus has served as commander in two wars launched by the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. If confirmed as the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Petraeus would effectively take command of a third war in Pakistan.
America has aready been preparing gound through some of its high officials, Indo-Israeli lobbies and CIA including their media to destabilise Pakistan which is the only nuclear country in the Islamic World, while Osama bin Laden’s presence and death in Pakistan will be fully utilised by the US against Pakistan.
Returning to our earlier discussion, we can coclude that in fact, Osama has become a scapegoat of US multiple aims.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations