By P. V. Durga:
Four years after Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda, was killed by USA’s Navy SEALs in an operation in Abbottabad in Pakistan, an article by Seymor M. Hersh (reputed investigative journalist) in the London Review of Books, gives some path-breaking information. In essence, it states that the premeditated assassination might not have been the work of America alone.
Pakistan had been on board with USA’s decision to kill Osama, even though a different story was told to the world. The people and media were made to believe that Osama’s dwelling was found by tracking his personal courier. Hersh’s article says otherwise. Consider the following facts:
First, Hersh points out that Osama was the ISI’s prisoner of war since 2006 and had been housed in Abbottabad with support from Saudi Arabia. Pakistan had been vying for stronghold in Afghanistan, and thus, was planning to hand him over to the US in return for a favorable reward. It then becomes only obvious that senior ISI officials in Pakistan were well aware of Osama’s whereabouts.
It all started with a walk-in evidence given to the CIA by a retired Pakistani intelligence agent, in return for a reward of 25 million dollars. The details were verified, evidence was gathered and the operation was strategically planned from August 2010, a good 9 months ahead of the operation. USA drew Pakistan into collaboration by what can best be described as arm-twisting. Refusing cooperation meant that the world would know that Pakistan was lodging a criminal in their own backyard. On the other hand, co-operating with them would be rewarded with increased military aid, as well as increased involvement in Afghanistan.
Second, according to Hersh, “the most blatant lie that was told to the world by USA was that Pakistan’s two senior most military leaders, Gen. Kayani (the then army chief) and Gen. Pasha (the then ISI chief) were not informed about the mission“. Hersh stated that one of the duties of Gen. Kayani and Gen. Pasha was to excuse the drones that entered the Pakistan airspace during the mission. In fact, Gen. Kayani is also said to have advised American agencies on the technicalities of Osama’s hideout. Their contribution was strictly kept under wraps, understandably so.
Third, it is said that Osama’s body was disposed of in the sea, but Hersh states that “pieces” of his body were thrown off in the Hindu Kush mountains. It is also said that there were only few bullet wounds inflicted on him. But Hersh mentions that his body was annihilated when he was attacked, and the “remaining” was disposed in the mountains.
Although Hersh’s article has been censured by Max Fisher stating logical inconsistencies and lack of credible evidence, one cannot ignore the fact that Pakistan has been adopting two pronged strategies – giving legitimacy to its cooperation in countering terrorism with USA through ISI, while assisting the Taliban in order to gather strength in Afghanistan. Moreover, soon after Hersh’s piece was published, there were legitimate sources that confirmed one of his claims.
As far as the American intervention in Islamic nations is concerned, scholars stand divided on the issue. There are some who believe that the sooner the USA withdraws, the better, because all said and done, the deadlock in the Islamic nations cannot be resolved, because USA will continue to be dependent on Pakistan. This mission has done nothing for Obama, except help him gain a second term as a president, they feel. Others like Carlotta Gall, a ground zero reporter who lived in Afghanistan for 12 years feel that American intervention has indeed been beneficial to the country, and its withdrawal would only leave the job “half done”.
At the end of the day, it is not a question of who knew what. Rather, it is important that nations do not lose sight of the larger picture in this tug of war for power and territory maximization. Fighting terrorism is important, but it is equally important that no other country’s security is compromised in this trade-off. Case in point, Afghanistan. It seems to be caught in the cusp of withdrawal by USA and an increased involvement of Pakistan, as was promised by the USA if Pakistan would extend its cooperation in the Bin Laden mission. Gall mentions that America’s inability to directly confront Pakistan on its double faced approach is something that would cost them the trust of Afghanistan. There is a need to develop a balanced, accommodative strategy rather than reducing the war against terrorism to mere bargains. Countering terrorism is probably more than just killing terrorists.