Around 800 Pakistanis rallied in Quetta on Tuesday over the death of Osama bin Laden. Were they celebrating the American action against this man who had twisted and hijacked their peaceful religion? Were they dancing in the streets and passing out candy because this man who had besmirched the image of Islam by connecting it with terrorism had at last passed from the scene?
No; they were chanting “Death to America,” burning an American flag, and mourning the death of a man they revered. Maulawi Asmatullah, whom Agence France-Presse identified as a “federal lawmaker,” led the rally, explaining: “Bin Laden was the hero of the Muslim world and after his martyrdom he has won the title of great mujahed.”
It was illustrative of where Pakistan stands in the fight against the global jihad, and where it has stood since September 11, 2001. The U.S. has paid billions to Pakistan since then in order to aid the Pakistani government’s fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban; it has been revealed, however, that much of that money has gone to those same organizations, and that the ISI, Pakistan’s spy service, has significant ties with al-Qaeda.
Accordingly, it was no surprise that on Sunday night, when Barack Obama delivered his self-aggrandizing address announcing the death of Osama bin Laden, he didn’t thank the Pakistani government for its cooperation in the raid on bin Laden’s compound: Pakistan was not involved in the operation. Express India reported Tuesday that “Pakistan was kept in dark till the operation to kill Osama bin Laden was successfully accomplished inside the country close to the capital Islamabad, the US officials said.”
One U.S. official explained why: “That was for one reason and one reason alone: We believed it was essential to the security of the operation and our personnel… that only a very small group of people inside our own government knew of the operation.”
But why would the security of the operation have been compromised if our friend and ally knew about it? The former President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, was indignant after bin Laden’s death for just that reason: “American troops coming across the border and taking action in one of our towns, that is Abbottabad, is not acceptable to the people of Pakistan. It is a violation of our sovereignty.” It would have been “far better,” Musharraf asserted, “if Pakistani Special Services Group had operated and conducted the mission. To that extent, the modality of handling it and executing the operation is not correct.” This “lack of trust” between the U.S. and Pakistan “is very bad. If two organizations [are] conducting an operation against a common enemy, there has to be trust and confidence in each other.”
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