VIEW: Truth or dare? —Gulmina Bilal Ahmad - Friday, May 06, 2011

Source :\05\06\story_6-5-2011_pg3_3

The security establishment of the country is not doing any good to the public by not providing an answer. If they have cooperated in this operation or have provided any intelligence, then the public should know

Bin Laden, the icon of terrorism; the symbol of fear in the western world is dead. Crowds of thousands of Americans came out in jubilation and celebrated the death of the person, who was responsible for killing more than three thousand Americans on 9/11 in 2001. It was certainly a victory for that nation, but what about us Pakistanis who are still searching for an answer about what happened?

The operation ‘Geranimo’, as the Americans are calling it, was executed in such a way that the whole of our security apparatus failed to detect the incoming Apache helicopters. This situation, if true, is really alarming because if a nuclear-armed nation cannot ensure its defence, then perhaps the Americans are right in saying that there is a grave threat to our nuclear weapons by the terrorists.

However, the reaction by the intelligence agencies and the government is not encouraging for the public. How could a country’s defence forces show such a naïve behaviour when they have a constant threat not only from outside but from an internal enemy as well? This is unbelievable. The only rational answer that comes around is that our security establishment is saying all this to avoid a possible backlash from the extremist elements.

The backlash would come anyways. Al Qaeda and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have already declared Pakistan as their number one enemy. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) have offered the funeral prayers in absentia for the slain al Qaeda leader. A country, where extremist elements are so deep-rooted, a backlash in any case is predictable.

Abbottabad is a cantonment, where not only the army is present, but due to the fact that Pakistan Military Academy is located there, the security of the area is ensured by the intelligence and the military. The compound where Bin Laden was hiding was, according to media reports, only 400 metres away from the academy. This compound was in existence since 2005 and still the answer comes that no one knew about his presence.

The Americans said that in order to avoid a tip-off that could have led to the escape of Bin Laden, they kept the Pakistani authorities uninformed on the operation. It was only after the operation that military took control of the compound. However, this explanation is not plausible because, throughout the operation that almost lasted for an hour or so, there was no reaction from the authorities or the civil administration.

The general public is dumbfounded and is demanding an answer that actually makes sense. The talk of sovereignty and independence, when foreign forces enter our airspace and conduct an operation on our soil seem like a misquoted jargon. However, the US President clearly said that the operation was successful due to the cooperation from authorities in Pakistan. Then why our security establishment is not providing a plausible answer to the public?

The level of trust between the US and Pakistan is at its lowest since the Raymond Davis saga. This was also one the reasons why the Americans did not inform the security establishment of Pakistan about the presence of a high-value target in the vicinity of our military academy. They believe that our intelligence agencies are playing a double game. On the outside they are cooperating with the Americans in this war on terror, but on the inside they provide protection to terrorist elements, which are considered as strategic assets.

If this cooperation is based on mistrust, then Pakistanis must prepare for such operations in future as well. The security establishment of the country is not doing any good to the public by not providing an answer. If they have cooperated in this operation or have provided any intelligence, then the public should know. Otherwise, this stance adopted by the establishment would once again lead to the defamation of army among the public, as happened in the ‘Musharraf Regime’.

A general sentiment that is spreading among the public like wildfire, which is also being reflected in the media, is that our security establishment was providing protection to Bin Laden and the Americans have caught them playing their double games. This is dangerous not only for the morale of our forces, who are fighting to protect this nation, but also for the public, who would once again lose trust in their defence forces.

A plausible answer would certainly help calm down the people. It is also imperative to avoid any backlash from the extremist factions. It is evident from the past few years that activism has gone a different level in our country. People come out in the streets even for the smallest of cause and perhaps that is what the democracy is all about. But this issue is not similar to the shortage of electricity or gas load shedding that can be neglected. The concerned authorities would have to devise a strategy for the future, so that the situation could be brought under control.

The implications of Pakistan being branded as a safe haven for terrorists would be dangerous. The public does not want it and is looking forward for an answer that could satisfy them.

The writer is an Islamabad-based consultant. She can be reached at

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