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What Pakistan Knew About Bin Laden?
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Lt Gen Prakash Katoch | Date:31 Mar , 2014 1 Comment
Lt Gen Prakash Katoch
is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army.

With advent of the internet, reading of books went on the decline especially with the young and modern generation, not that this is applicable to all across the board. In the process veritable pieces of multiple jigsaw get missed out because generally books are written after plenty research. Of course, excerpts, interviews and write-ups by authors do throw insights into what the book contains. For example, it is only through the book ‘From a Head, Through a Head, To a Head – the secret channel between US and Pakistan through Pakistan’ by FS Aijazzuddin published in Pakistan published in Karachi in year 2000 that the strategically cunning advice by Chou-en-Lai in early 1960’ to Ayub Khan to raise a militia to fight a prolonged war in India’s backyard was revealed. That axiomatically was the very basis of Pakistan planning proxy war on India – much before the Taliban were even thought of.

…ISI had the knowledge of Osaam bin Laden’s hiding place in Abbotabad and that the ISI and Pakistan’s military establishment also supported the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

However, three recent revelations should not be lost sight of. The first is an article by Carlotta Gall who having extensively travelled in troubled areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan wrote an article titled ‘What Pakistan Knew About Bin Laden’ in The New York Times dated 19 March 2014. She writes that the Pakistani government, under President Pervez Musharraf and his intelligence chief, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, was Maintaining and protecting the Taliban, both to control the many groups of militants now lodged in the country and to use them as a proxy force to gain leverage over and eventually dominate Afghanistan. The dynamic has played out in ways that can be hard to grasp from the outside, but the strategy that has evolved in Pakistan has been to make a show of cooperation with the American fight against terrorism while covertly abetting and even coordinating Taliban, Kashmiri and foreign Qaeda-linked militants.

The linchpin in this two-pronged and at times apparently oppositional strategy is the ISI. It’s through that agency that Pakistan’s true relationship to militant extremism can be discerned — a fact that the United States was slow to appreciate, and later refused to face directly, for fear of setting off a greater confrontation with powerful (nuclear?) Pakistan. Incidentally, on her last day in Pakistan close to the Afghanistan border, three English speaking, khaki clad agents (ISI?) broke through the door of her hotel room. The lintel splintered, and they burst in a rush, snatched her laptop and punched her in the face and temples when she tried to resist her handbag being grabbed, having already seized her cell-phone and notebook. She was told she was not permitted to visit the neighborhood of Pashtunabad and that it was forbidden to interview members of the Taliban.

The second revelation has also been made by Carlotta Gall through her newly released book ‘The Wrong Enemy: American in Afghanistan, 2001-2014 wherein she says that the ISI had the knowledge of Osaam bin Laden’s hiding place in Abbotabad and that the ISI and Pakistan’s military establishment also supported the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. She argues that the failure of the US mission in Afghanistan is largely the result of Pakistani duplicity, which has consisted of the country taking American aid dollars while still covertly supporting the Taliban and other extremist groups. Referring to a very ‘convincing’ source she says that the ISI was actually running a special desk within the organization to handle Bin Laden, which meant hide him and talk to him. Readers may recall a remark made by Benazir Bhutto months before returning to Pakistan to fight elections that Osama bin Laden was hiding in Musharraf’s backyard. Then there are scholars who question whether the US too knew about Osama’s whereabouts in Abbotabad and was waiting for the right moment to extract maximum mileage for President Obama, possibility of which can hardly be discounted.

The environment is going to be that much difficult to deal if we continue to drift and cannot put in place a deterrent against Pakistan’s cross border proxy war.

The third revelation from the above book is that the 2008 deadly terrorist attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul was sanctioned and monitored by senior officials of Pakistan’s ISI. It may be recalled that the said car bomb attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul on July 7, 2008 left 58 people including the Defence Attaché and over 140 were injured. Afghan intelligence too had pointed to Pakistan’s complicity at the time of that terrorist attack though the US had merely condemned the attack. The fact that Pakistan has hardly acted against the Taliban despite US pressure is enough proof of the underlying nexus.

Our appalling state of defence preparedness and intransigent response to proxy war should raise much concern. This has been coming more and more into focus and there have been many calls for the Defence Minister to step down who arguably has been the worst after VK Krishna Menon of 1962 fame. Krishna Menon could damage India’s defence preparedness from 1957 to 1962 whereas AK Anthony enjoys this privilege right from year 2006. If General VN Thapar resigned in November 1962, it was not only because of the debacle but also that he could no more bear the neglect of the Army. 52 years later, Admiral DK Joshi resigned in February 2014 not only because of the accidents but because he could no more bear the utter neglect of the naval fleet.

Then we have film star Raj Babbar is the Chairman of Standing Committee of Defence of India’s Parliament His priorities were on display last October during a briefing on “threat perception and preparedness of the forces including incursions on borders” organized for select MPs where the Defence Secretary, the Director General of Military Operations and equivalents from Navy and Air Force and several other senior officials from the Army, Navy and Air Force were present. However, when the briefing by the Army finished, Raj Babbar as Chairman of Standing Committee of Defence abruptly called off the meeting without waiting for briefings by the Navy and Air Force saying “some” MPs had to catch flights. What his qualifications are to hold this important post, even the media has failed to discover. To top this, the Defence Minister and MoD’s generalist bureaucrats remain unaccountable and unconcerned under cover that the Services Headquarters are only “attached offices”. All this does not augur well for India.

The pieces given in the book are important add to completing the picture of deceit of Pakistan, which should not be ignored. It will be at our peril to continue with utopian dreams and lower our guard. The environment is going to be that much difficult to deal if we continue to drift and cannot put in place a deterrent against Pakistan’s cross border proxy war. The terrorist strikes in J&K on 28th March are just the umpteenth time that we have been given a wakeup call.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

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One thought on “What Pakistan Knew About Bin Laden?

  1. since the politcans babus are not concerned the armed forces should not take the defence of india on the officers and solders heads . let the alqueeda , taliban come in and create mayhem in kashmir in a caliberated manner and force the sleeping idots to wake upand carry out the necessary reforms , why endanger some poor farmers or lowermiddleclass son when kargil injured major is running from pillar to post for his dues .The armys rotten generals are responsible for many of the ills which afflict the army today.

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