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Middle East Comment from a Traveling Journo

They Knew He Was There

Is it just me, or is it blindingly obvious that Pakistan knew where Osama was? In case you’re reading this President Zardari – HE WAS IN THE MASSIVE HOUSE NEAR THE ARMY BASE! You know the one, with the huge orchard outside and loads of scary looking men running in and out at night?

If not the highest-ranking officials, then middle to low ranking agents in the ISI knew very well. Recruited from towns and villages along the famously porous AfPak borders, ISI operatives and Pakistani officials come from the very same region from which the Taliban started recruiting 40 years ago. These links are old, filial, and strong – much stronger than any sense of loyalty to the ISI. As a result, the organisation has been undermining US operations in Afghanistan for years, feeding information to the Taliban about coalition forces, and sending the latter on wild goose chases. And why have senior officials done nothing to plug the leak?

Pakistan needs to keep the simmering threat of terror alive. For three reasons:

First, the Saudi – Afghan – Pakistani Sunni triangle is an allegiance that goes back to the Soviet Afghan war of the 70s. When Reagan called the Mujahedeen ‘the equivalent to our founding fathers,’ and when the threat of the Cold War and Shi’a Iran were omnipresent. That latter threat is still there, and as present as ever. The Sunni pact – so strong that the Saudis paid for a literal ‘wall’ of Sunni mosques along the Pakistan border with Iran – remains to this day, and whilst American funding for the Taliban has long since dried up ($500m a year at one point), these three keep the money flowing.

Second: Pakistan has its own domestic and regional issues with India, in which it is one of a number of players provoking tensions between Hindus and Muslims no end. Kashmir is another region set in its Islamic sights. Tapping into the resources and tactical know-how of these shady characters serves Pakistan well.

The third and perhaps most important reason – to keep the US in the region. As long as the shadow of terror remains, US money, investment and aid will pour in, not to mention turning a blind eye to Pakistan’s nuclear ambitions, and its brutal domestic security policies.

Whilst the government looks to the US for support, it can conveniently plead innocence whilst individuals lower down can stoke the very fires the US is paying to put out. The head doesn’t know what the feet are doing, and it has suited them so far.

I don’t think we’ll ever know the full details of what went on in this remarkably convenient and swift execution. Obama it seems has lost the innocence and piousness that he brought with him to office, choosing a clandestine operation to murder a man, rather than bring him to the real ‘justice’ he used to lecture about at Chicago Law School. It’s amazing how an election changes a man. But whatever the truth of his end, Bin Laden’s discovery just clears up what we all knew for so long about our ‘ally’ in Pakistan. Maybe now something might change.

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Filed under: Middle East

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Middle East Comment from a Travelling Journo

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