Last night, I was up until really late. Till the morning, in fact. Listening to Hindi songs, doing some work and so on.
When initial reports came in of a helicopter crash in Abbotabad, Pakistan, I shrugged and dismissed as the usual Pakistani idea of fireworks and logged off.
An hour and a half later, I was awake with my son cranky, so I fired up the computer again, and sat rocking him to sleep and almost dropped him when I realized that in that nap I took, Osama Bin Laden got killed! That really sucks. I mean, 10 years he waited to die, and he couldn’t wait another couple of hours so I could be a part of the initial frenzy of a big moment?
One big thing that jumps out is that US is quite clear that this is a US operation with very limited need-to-know and Pakistan was definitely not it, particularly the ISI. On the other hand, the Pakistani forces seem to believe they were there. hmmm. Consensus seems to be that if they were there, they were up to no good, seeing as how the place was likely an ISI safe house. With its proximity to the Military Academy and all.
Frankly, I’m not as thrilled about Osama being dead as I am about the Pakistani role in his safety being rather evident. It is something India has been saying for a long time. I had written earlier that the US made monumental and match-defining mistake in taking on Pakistan for an ally. In my opinion, the War on Terror was already lost with the Kunduz airlift, with the escape of the core Al Qaeda, Taliban and Pakistani military honchos fighting the USA. In one fell swoop, the US had corrupted its own mission for its typical puppeteering in Pakistan.
To avoid damage to Musharraf’s rule in Pakistan, America had authorized secret airlifts of Pakistani military personnel cornered in Kunduz along with the terrorists. It was right there that many lost belief in the US intent. Some people fighting side by side with the Al Qaeda being quietly exempted simply meant that they would rise again. But what unfolded was much worse. The airlift took on a life of its own, and the scale of what was to be a small evacuation turned into something that was referred to as an air bridge by commentators.
This lift undoubtedly extended the war infinitely by not only allowing the core targets to escape to safe heavens where US couldn’t follow, but by setting precedent for ignoring terrorist presence of Pakistan. You don’t win wars by fighting only half your enemies, as we saw in the decade that followed.
Somewhere down the line, in bits and pieces, US did the math.
A decade later, and a decade wiser, this time, when the US struck, it was in the heart of Pakistan and with no intention of compromise or even notification. And it worked.
It makes me see several new things. Most importantly, the pampering of Pakistan is over. Which is a good thing. For the safety of the world, India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan itself.
Another thing I realize is that one big concern of mine is likely not a concern. I had been quite alarmed at news of Afghanistan and the Taliban reaching some kind of reconciliation. This is akin to asking Americans to vote for Osama. The taliban had come to power with a hideous massacre. Many were indignant that they were being pushed to accept the Taliban because US wanted to do a shutter down on the war.
If this stalking of OBL had been happening for a year, with the US suspecting the exact location of Osama in a protected house near Military facilities, I am more inclined to see the reconciliation as a red herring to keep the ISI busy with other non-happening things and away from interfering with the war on terror.
This is also supported by the Raymond Davis thing, where Pakistan was totally out of the loop on CIA actions in Pakistan. The questioning of funds being misused, refusal to allocate further funds, refusal to back off as easily as before. Slowly, without making waves, the situation is actually quite different than it was a couple of years ago, or more precisely before the Wikileaks exposes.
I guess it helped US to discover what’s been happening in other areas of its operations too.
This is good news for India, because without a blanket of unconditional support, it becomes far more easy to engage Pakistan.
On the other hand, Pakistan seems to have reached a new low in its existence, with internal violence, disenfranchisement in vast regions, economic ruin and all time low of credibility.And the world seems to have woken up to the fact that dancing to Pakistan’s tune would not keep it stable, nor would the nukes being under the control of the supposedly secular armed forces necessarily result in nuclear safety. In simple words, Pakistan’s cover is blown wide open.
From here, things will improve or reach hideous lows, but the pretense cannot be held.
All in all, I have started seeing the US attitude toward Pakistan as far more realistic than I had initially imagined. This is good.