The Bin Laden Killing - A Masterstroke
06 May, 2011
By Anwaar Hussain
A blizzard of lies indeed flies every which way in the aftermath of Abbottabad strike. Lies have surely been told before, during and after the operation. The fact, however, stays that Bin Laden is dead. In a singularly unmatched stunt, in one clean, surgical and slashing strike, Bin Laden is taken out and announced dead to the world, finally, officially and conclusively. After years of fumbling and shuffling, the giant has at last delivered a masterstroke that leaves many gasping for their breaths.
The scribe thought long and hard about covering the many inconsistencies in the American reporting of the Abbottabad strike and carrying out its technical post-mortem but then thought it to be a useless exercise. At this juncture it seems pointless to raise doubts about the many variations in the Americans’ public narration of the event or whether the strike got airborne from Jalalabad or from inside Pakistan. Whether he was killed for the first time or the umpteenth time is meaningless too. At this time, the whole wide world, including the over patriotic Pakistani media, agrees that Bin Laden is dead. What matters is that now in the end, the snake’s head lies deep in its watery grave separated from its writhing body on land. Good riddance are the words that come instantly to mind. Other than that, here is what the scribe thinks of the occurrence.
Given America’s supremacy in weaponry, satellite imagery and stealth technologies, the strike itself is no big deal. As a matter of fact, it was the delay in getting their man that was raising questions about Americans’ capabilities and sincerity. Lest some Americans brag about their armed forces’ skill and bravado, a little reminder would be in the fitness of things. On 9/11 four airliners flew for a considerable length of time in US airspace before slamming into some of their structures and killing innocent human beings. One even hit the Pentagon, if one’s memory serves right. Those fat, huge and sloppy machines went unchallenged by American Air Defense Systems.
Likewise, our neighbors too need another little reminder. Excited to no end by the happening as they are, they have given to making lofty claims about their strengths and intentions. They need to stop chaffing at the bit for a moment and ponder awhile. With around 1.32 million active standing army and 2.14 million reserve forces, they have the third-largest active troops in the world. With all this military muscle they failed to stop, or even detect till it was too late, terrorists that launched from Pakistan on foot, boats and taxis and inflicted that brutal carnage upon Mumbai citizens not many years back.
So no, it is neither the audacity nor the competence of Uncle Sam that makes the event a masterstroke. Why is it a master stroke then, one may ask? After all as long as Bin Laden was declared living and at large, he came pretty handy in scaring the world into many useful actions for the great US of A. So what is so masterly about the strike? Here;
1. Firstly, with Uncle Sam’s limitless resources, foisting another terror legend upon the world only takes some more imagination. Any way, the world was developing a kind of Bin Laden fatigue from the continuous harangue about him and about “now we have him, now we don’t”. A fresh face, when need be, will bring fresh prospects with it.
2. Secondly, with US elections around the corner, the Americans getting their collective backsides endlessly kicked by the ragtag Taliban and the increasing pre-election clamor of “bring the boys back home”, this killing proves to be a godsend. All the Americans need now is to declare having achieved the principle war aim of killing Bin Laden, pronounce victory, keep their supremacy fable intact and get out as fast as they came, if not faster.
3. Thirdly, the event took the wind out of Pakistan’s over zealous grand strategic thinkers of the Khaki variety. For them the aftermath is extremely embarrassing not because of the questions that arise out of the massive bungling on their part but the answers that the whole world in general and the Pakistani nation in particular expects from them, and which are nary-a-coming. They are squirming in the cage, on the back foot and more pliable than molding clay at this particular point in time. Any number of concessions can now be extracted from them especially with regards to mambas like the Haqani group that they still cuddle in vain hopes.
Let us come to the real issue. And that is of demanding certain answers from our grand strategic thinkers—our ‘saviors’ who promised that ‘they will save us’. They need to come clean on the issue for naked truth is always better than the best dressed lie.
There is a joke doing the rounds on the web that Pakistan is so insecure a country these days that even Bin Laden was not safe here. So here are the scribe’s direct questions to the grand strategic thinkers;
Q-1. Do you agree that there is nothing as embarrassing as watching your boss do something you assured him couldn’t be done or him finding something you said wasn’t there?
Q-2. CIA Director Leon Panetta alleged the other day that Pakistan was either incompetent or involved. Which one is it?
Q-3. Is the terrorists being on our soil the bigger violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty or four helicopters flying into Pakistan without a flight plan to kill a wanted mass murderer?
Q-4. You claimed that you could detect and shoot down intruding drones any time you wished. Now which one is easier, taking out small swift drones or bulky, slow helicopters?
Q-5. In the aftermath of the event, we are repeatedly being assured that our strategic assets are safe. Weren’t these strategic assets meant to save us? How come we have ended up saving them?
Q-6. What would India achieve by breaking up or occupying Pakistan? They could occupy East Pakistan but didn’t. So, don’t you think that instead of making more India-specific nuclear-capable missiles, the funds and energy should be directed to eliminating the terrorists who actually are capable of breaking Pakistan or, at the least, turning it into a sickly, failed state?
Q-7. Do you think it is possible that the lowly field operatives of the ISI knew all along and protected Bin Laden? After all, General staff may have a rethink on strategies, the field operators seldom do, especially when the cause is so thoroughly mixed up with religious zealotry and fervor.
Q-8. If it was Jihad against the godless Soviets, during which the ISI mothered these mambas, why is it now not Jihad against the ‘infidel’ Americans?
The only positive that I can see in the situation for our grand strategic thinkers is that that there sure is a certain character that can be built from embarrassing themselves endlessly. If they can sit happy with embarrassment, there’s not much else that can really get to them.
Though the scribe has written the piece with much shame and anguish, yet the Americans are requested not to continuously remind the Pakistanis of the billions of dollars they have been giving them. It reminds one of a 6 years old child’s question to his father, “When my mother puts clothes on me, it is called clothing me, when God puts skin on people, is it called skinning them?”