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Whichever way you look at it, the discovery and killing of Osama bin Laden in a comfortable house in Abbottabad within walking distance of Kakul (Pakistan Military Academy) and a short drive from the nation’s capital Islamabad, constitutes an abject humiliation for Pakistan.

The options are limited.

Either the Pakistani authorities did not know that bin Laden was there, apparently for several years. In which case their incompetence is so colossal that it should cause widespread panic, except that it beggars belief.

Or the Pakistani authorities knew of bin Laden’s presence in their midst. In which case the worst cynics have been proved right.

There are some tell-tale pointers as to which of these is more likely to be true. The first is that Osama bin Laden chose this location to hide: a clear demonstration that of all the choices available to him, he felt safest here. Not in remote caves in areas reputed for the dogged hospitality of their tribesmen, but in leafy Abbottabad. A few hundred yards from a premier military academy. Within a couple of hours’ drive from Islamabad.

Another is that the Obama administration did not tell the Pakistani authorities anything about this mission: a clear sign that their judgment was that if they did, it was likely that someone would tell bin Laden.

Pakistan’s leaders have acted earlier in their history in ways that suggest a significant capacity for self-harm, but Osama bin Laden in a bungalow in Abbottabad? The mind boggles. What were they thinking!

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4 Comments

  1. Adnan Rafiq
    May 4, 2011 at 3:00 pm — Reply

    It is indeed mind boggling!!! Being from Abbottabad myself, the thought of having lived in the neighbourhood of Bin Laden is chilling (given that my house is not too far from the alleged compound) – however, being a student of politics, I think once the shock recedes and the sanity returns, one will not find it an impossibility that he chose a posh urban locale close to sensitive military installations as his hideout, given that other key members of Al-Qaeda, notably Khalid Shiekh Mohammad were also arrested by the Pakistan security forces from a similar location in Rawalpindi, home to the General Headquarters. Shock is greater this time, I think because of the dramatic turn of events and because the Pakistani authorities have not been involved (contrary to the joint operation conducted to capture KSM). In my assessment, it is highly unlikely that Pakistan’s top military brass knew about Bin Laden’s location; however one can certainly doubt that no one in the ISI had any hint about this. This does however put a question mark on the efficiency, competency and some may argue, the intentions of the spy agency, especially that of its middle/low ranking officers.

  2. Arnab
    May 8, 2011 at 3:56 pm — Reply

    In my opinion, it is impossible that Pakistani security establishment did not know about Bin Laden’s hideout. Whatever faults one may find withPakistani Intelligence (ISI), no one will hesitate to admit that it is ruthless and efficient.
    I believe what Hillary Clinton , in a moment of unguarded frankess, said-that some members of Pakistani security establishment , though not necessarily the top brass, knew about Bin Laden and actively helped him.

    The solution to the problem lies not in admonishing Pakistan’s militray forces -it does not work and they do not seem to care and even if they do, they are adept in the game of duplicity- but to help them come out of a siege mentality and their obscession with the ‘threat’ from India.

    India has a big role to play here. It is an aspiring superpower and it should act like one . It should do everything possible to reassure Pakistan that it does not face any existential threat ( at least not from India) and it should try to solve the kashmir probelm in a way acceptable to India, Pakistan and the Kashmiri people.

  3. Talha
    May 17, 2011 at 4:11 pm — Reply

    Dr Bose,

    May I ask on what basis you claim that OBL was found in Abbottabad? Has there been ANY evidence to support this claim, or to detract earlier claims that he had been killed in 2001-2002? The world would be a better place if we all started believing evidence instead of what the powers that be would have us believe.

  4. Pat
    May 20, 2011 at 5:08 pm — Reply

    http://blogs.aljazeera.net/asia/2011/05/19/who-pakistan-knew-osama-was-there

    This Al-Jazeera article offers an interesting theory about moving during an earthquake – or possibly the floods?

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