So, the most obvious scenario to consider would have been the PAF decimating those four helicopters. What then would have been Washington’s explanation to the American people and to its allies around the world? What could possibly have been the explanation of what they were doing in Pakistan’s air space in the middle of the night, heading toward Pakistan’s chief military academy? Would Washington have then gone public, explaining to the American people that the mission had been designed to capture and eliminate Osama bin Laden and Pakistan had come in the way? What would Islamabad have done then?
The Osama killing was also a smoke-and-mirrors operation in which both parties were seemingly fully involved, and the mission was agreed on in advance.
It would be natural to expect that at that point, Islamabad would have moved Osama from this safe house to another one and cut off all intelligence-sharing links with the United States. And finally, the most devastating of all actions, it would have also cut off the entire supply line to Afghanistan that trundles through Pakistan every day. In other words, the United States would have to have positioned itself at that point in time to go into an all-out war with a nuclear Pakistan and a formidable military based on its own turf. None of these assumptions seem plausible unless one concludes that a mad man resides in the White House.
There is, however, a more rational analysis. It is that the whole operation, like the regular ongoing drone attacks carried out by the United States government, led by the Central Intelligence Agency’s Special Activities Division, was well organised and well coordinated between the Pentagon and Rawalpindi. It is public knowledge that Pakistan’s government publicly condemns the drone attacks but has secretly shared intelligence with the Americans and also allowed the drones to operate from Pakistan’s Shamsi Airfield until as late as 21 April 2011, when 150 Americans were asked to leave the airfield.
The series of contradictory statements issued by the PAF are also noteworthy. Soon after the incident, officials of the PAF reported that the PAF surveillance system had been jammed by the United States. Then they said that Pakistani radars had been switched off. A few days later, the same PAF spokesman said that the surveillance system had neither been switched off nor jammed, but that it was possible that the stealth helicopters had evaded the Pakistani radar system by flying close to the ground.
“The fall has been so hard that they don’t know whether to turn right or left; whether to say this or that. Which is why, with every passing day, they are making the situation ever more difficult for the country by their infantile reactions, increasingly putting the country in further danger,” says Kamran Shafi, a Pakistani political analyst.
Many observers expect that the elimination of Osama bin Laden might create a spike in terrorist activities for a while, but that it would bring to an end an issue that has furthered alienation between Washington and Islamabad.
Considering the routine protestations issued by Islamabad and Rawalpindi against regular American drone attacks, the 2 May subterfuge by both sides should not be a surprise. According to secret cables released by WikiLeaks, Pakistan’s army chief, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, not only tacitly agreed to the drone flights, but, in 2008, he also requested the Americans to increase them. However, during a meeting of the parliamentary committee on national security 29 April, Pakistan’s interior minister, Rehman Malik, said, “Unauthorized drone missiles cause collateral damage. A few militants are killed, but the majority of victims are innocent citizens.” What Rehman Malik is saying has nothing to do with truth or reality; it is an effort on his part to make some Pakistani citizens believe that the drone attacks were unilateral acts by the United States against Pakistan.
In other words, much of what takes place between the United States and Pakistan in terms of security matters and the so-called war on terror, is done with smoke and mirrors. Both countries carry out outrageous acts, some of which are then explained away to the citizens of Pakistan and the United States as surreptitious, unilateral actions by one or the other country. This is purely for public consumption.
The Osama killing was also a smoke-and-mirrors operation in which both parties were seemingly fully involved, and the mission was agreed on in advance. President Obama was applauded for pulling this daring act through successfully; while Islamabad, for its part, was relieved that the over-the-hill terrorist, Osama bin Laden, whom they had protected for years and could not eliminate physically for fear of drawing the violent wrath of the jihadists who function impudently even inside Pakistan’s security apparatus, was finally annihilated. Many observers expect that the elimination of Osama bin Laden might create a spike in terrorist activities for a while, but that it would bring to an end an issue that has furthered alienation between Washington and Islamabad. Osama bin Laden’s death was considered “good riddance’ by both the hunter and the protector.
Vocal Outbursts in the United States
Following the revelation that Osama bin Laden had been living under the nose of the Pakistani security apparatus, a hue and cry broke out in the United States questioning Pakistani leaders’ integrity and trustworthiness. With 100,000 American troops stationed in Afghanistan across the borders from Pakistan, the Obama administration was critical yet cautious about Pakistan’s role in protecting a top anti-U.S. terrorist and his cohorts. There were outcries from believers such as Christine Fair, a Pakistan expert at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, who went on record saying, “The Pakistanis have played us like kazoos. They say ‘yes, yes, yes’ but mean ‘no, no, no’ . . . We need a transactional relationship with them that is based on clear quid pro quo. The Pakistanis do not want anything more than that, and we are deluding ourselves if we think otherwise.”
Christopher Hitchens said, “. . . Everybody knew that the Taliban was originally an instrument for Pakistani colonization of Afghanistan”¦”
Ms. Fair can rest assured that such “clear quid pro quo” is not yet even in the furthest corners of minds in either Washington or Rawalpindi/Islamabad. Soon after the raid on Osama’s “hideout” next door to the PMA, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Joint Chiefs chairman, Admiral Mike Mullen, made yet another trip to Islamabad in an effort to patch up relations. However, the visit revealed no news regarding the Afghan Taliban sanctuaries on Pakistani territory, which are widely believed to be under the protection of Pakistan’s intelligence services.
According to a report in Time magazine, CIA chief, Leon Panetta, who will soon succeed Robert Gates as U.S. secretary of defense, was in meetings late on 10 June with Pakistan army chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and his intelligence chief, Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate, regarding another incident of Pakistani double-dealing that followed the Osama killing.