EDITORIAL: Osama bin Laden is dead - Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Source : http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\05\03\story_3-5-2011_pg3_1

In the biggest news story of the decade since the war on terror began, the supreme leader of al Qaeda has reportedly been killed in a hail of gunfire, blood and conspiracies that may never be solved. Late Sunday night, elite troops belonging to the US Navy Seals Team Six — a sophisticated counter-terrorism unit — stormed a compound in Abbottabad where they believed bin Laden was hiding. True to CIA reports, the al Qaeda head was found alive and reportedly refused to give himself up after which he was shot twice in the head along with some other people living with him. In slightly suspicious developments, the US is said to have taken custody of Osama’s remains and quickly buried him at sea. They have cited it as the only way the Islamic rite of speedy burial could be ensured while some US reports say that they would be hard pressed to find any country willing to host the terror figure’s body. However, it is likely that the US had already realised that any Osama burial site would become the symbolic rallying ground for a future generation of jihadists inspired by al Qaeda’s founding father. Instead of providing them with a shrine, they ended the man’s ‘legacy’ as an inspirational figure for new recruits.

The entire world is in a jubilant mood, celebrating the reported death of the world’s most notorious man. Americans congregated outside the White House in what appeared as final closure for so many who had lost their loved ones in the 9/11 terror attack. Congratulatory messages poured in from all over the world and President Obama rode high on a victory wave in this long drawn war. While this development is a great step forward, one cannot help but think of it as more of a psychological victory in a war where the enemy is shadowy and spread out all over the world. Al Qaeda’s war is a global one, with a global agenda and tentacles spread out in far-flung places. It must be said that Osama was now basically a symbolic figure, a source of jihadi inspiration. It would not be far off to believe that there are many chiefs and leaders waiting in the wings to take over from where bin Laden has left off. While his death is a definite blow to the militants, it provides them with the perfect chance for bloody retribution. The US and its allies — especially Pakistan where bin Laden was killed — will be sure terror targets. It is little wonder that the US is on red alert security. Pakistan had also better watch out. We have been aiding the Americans and have been victims of home-grown terror and militants who have idolised bin Laden. With Pakistan allowing the Americans to conduct counter-terror operations here, we are bound to be targeted in very painful ways.

Pakistan has found itself in quite the embarrassing situation. Osama bin Laden was found in a military town just a mile or so away from the Kakul Military Academy. How he was able to hide there without any action on our part is going to be a hard sell to the Americans. So far, we have been milking the same excuse: joint intelligence and a willingness on our part in counter-terror operations led to this victory. Scratching beneath the surface may reveal other truths entirely. Whilst we have been allies of the US, we have been very trying partners, picking and choosing the militants we wanted to root out and the ones we wanted to protect. No doubt, in the coming days, Pakistan’s exact role in the war on terror and Osama’s death will become clearer. It is hoped we will not be on the receiving end of a negative fallout with the Americans, who are in this war for the long haul. *


This May Day was dotted with massive rallies in countries around the world. From Cuba, Portugal, France, Greece, Russia, Hong Kong, Korea to Indonesia, thousands of workers took to the streets to demand their rights. Even in Pakistan, a significant number of rallies were held in different parts of the country. After many years, this May Day sent out strong signals of the revival of the labour movement. In Pakistan, labour unions are active only in the public sector. There is not so much activity in the private sector, where workers are at the mercy of the their bosses’ arbitrary decisions. The passage of the 18th Amendment has devolved the system of labour legislation to the provinces. An example of how provinces are dealing with this issue is the Punjab Industrial Relations (PIR) Act 2010. Labour and human rights activists have severely criticised this piece of legislation enacted by the Punjab Assembly, stating that it is in conflict with Pakistan’s international obligation to implement the provisions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) rules and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), ratified by Pakistan. PIR Act 2010 stipulates that no trade union can be set up in industrial units employing less than 50 workers. In the present circumstances, when not many large units are in operation, the private sector mostly comprises small and medium enterprises, the number of whose workers is often less than 50. In effect, this provision deprives the majority of workers of the right of collective bargaining with their employers. In addition, the system of labour inspection has been abolished on the plea that it promotes corruption in the labour department and unnecessarily harasses business owners. It is regrettable that instead of improving the system, the government took the easier course and left labour at the mercy of the employers. The absence of such a system has given a carte blanche to treat the workers as they like. How is it possible to enforce minimum wages for workers without on the spot inspections by the government?

The undermining of labour rights is not just the case in Punjab or Pakistan as a whole. Workers are facing difficult circumstances throughout the world. Therefore, the resurgence of the labour movement will help them gain their rights — those that they have lost and also those that they have still not gained. *

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