That bin Laden was a state guest is clear from his life style. Few Pakistanis can afford accommodations in Pakistan’s summer stations like Abbottabad or Murree with a troupe of wives, children, couriers, servants, and SUVs. No one of his stature on this planet can afford a secret life for 10 long years without leaving traces until and unless state provides that privacy. In this age of technology, many would agree that none can afford covering asses under the naughty radars. Access to organic veges, chickens, home grown rabbits, fresh olives, Arabian dates, milk of goats and cows and a life full of sex—imagine it. Only a state guest and not the guest of an illiterate Pashtun tribesman can enjoy such a hospitality.
OBL’s raided accommodation is at a stone’s throw from Pakistan’s military academy at Kakul which provides training to commissioned officers, in a town known as military city. It has two regiments and one medical corps. It’s the only city where uniformed men are clearly visible in civilian markets, transport, on roads and streets. They no more roam on the streets of Lahore, Peshawar or Multan. While many question why OBL would have opted for living in Abbottabad, the hosts’ decision of providing him a house there was perfect. Its residents are often non-locals and have lesser level of socialization. The language, ethnic background and class association are major barriers that keep the residents away from one another. In a street of seven houses, the possibility is that one resident may be a local, the second from Kohistan, third from Peshawar, fourth from Lahore, and the next neighbor can be a rich Afghan refugee or a tribal elder. It’s again very much possible that one neighbor might have a military background, the other a businessman, a professor and yet another might be one making money in real estate. They would also speak different languages ranging from Hindko, Urdu, Pashto, Punjabi, to Kohistani and even Dari (Afghan version of Farsi). A state-run institute can easily monitor streets and markets of such a diverse town as compared to a city of identical backgrounds.
Bringing OBL from his last reported location, Tora Bora in Afghanistan in 2001, to Abbottabad is a task that can hardly be attributed to an individual or a tribe or a group. In a country like Pakistan where military is the first, last and the lonely force visible on a security gallery, no one else can dare getting close to OBL and his associates. His life style, sense of confidence, proximity with military bases, and living without armed guards—all show that OBL believed he was in safe hands.
The nature of operation is a shame for ISI and Pakistan’s security mechanism. First, the ISI didn’t prove its trustworthiness among its American counterparts. CIA chief Leon Panetta said Pakistan would have jeopardized the raid and were therefore kept in the dark. Second, it was considered as an ally of the terrorists and hence CIA made efforts to keep it secret from the ISI. The winner of the spy war was no doubt CIA and not the ISI. Its head General Shuja Pasha should resign to reduce the level of ‘embarrassment’ and acknowledge his failure. Third, the operation has clearly passed on a message to Pakistanis that their spy agency had juxtaposed its interests with those of the bad guys on the Earth. Those who have still doubts they need to wait when Mullah Omar, after a bit of ferreting, is recovered from Quetta cantonment and OBL’s lieutenant Aiman al-Zawahiri from some cool summer station near a military base in coming months or years.
Living in a ‘state of denial’ is epidemic in Pakistan. Its leaders, military and civilian, mediamen, and representatives of state have a big ‘no’ for facts. Ask them Pakistan has become a terror hub, and they will say it is a safe place for investment. Chief of Army Staff General Kayani announced in Abbottabad eight days before OBL’s killing that Pakistan armed forces had broken the back of militants. He was calling the shots just 800 yards away from OBL’s complex.
While the world was questioning ISI’s role, doubting it as a protector of OBL, Prime Minister Gilani was telling in Paris, “world shares blame for failure on bin Laden”.
The whole world, including mainstream Muslim Umma and religious clerics, call OBL a terrorist but attorneys in Peshawar and Abbottabad, columnists, TV show hosts and guests praise him as a hero and consider the raid on OBL’s house was violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.
Like Americans, Pashtuns in general and tribals in particular, came out victorious in the OBL saga. He was not killed in the mountains of Pashtuns but in a place controlled and administered by Pakistan military. Islamabad did its best telling the world OBL is the guest of conservative, hard fighting Pashtuns in their tough terrain all these years. Never in history, military of a country stigmatized its own co-citizens but in Pakistan, the smaller nations--Pashtun, Sindhi and Baloch are being presented as bad guys in the country’s Punjab-dominated security apparatus. A huge relief for Pashtuns and shame for those who think OBL’s agenda will make the country prosperous. Pashtuns were pleading from day one that they were being used in the War on Terror. OBL’s presence in a military city of Pakistan also lent weight to Kabul’s calls that terrorists were across the border in their safe havens—or ‘hands’?—in main cities.