International

The Jury will still be out on Osama

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As far as thrill and excitement goes, catering to the American taste, the Obama-sanctioned killing of Osama bin Laden had all the hallmarks of a Hollywood blood-soaked suspense thriller.

The US helicopters sneaked into the Pakistan territory low and undetected in pitch dark. They had apparently been successful in jamming the Pakistani radars to avoid detection. It was past mid-night, Pakistan Standard Time, between May 1 and May 2 when they landed outside a high-walled ‘mansion’ in the salubrious hill-city of Abbotabad, which has also the distinction of being home to the august Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul. It was in that walled house that the world’s most wanted fugitive, Osama bin Laden, was gunned down in cold blood. He was apparently unarmed when shot.

The clinical success of the cloak-and-dagger operation apparently gladdened President Obama inestimably. The White House later quickly released a photograph of Obama apparently huddled in the WH situation room with his top advisers and minions watching something intently. It was subsequently explained that what they were watching was the military operation being carried out at Obama’s specific command. It was a satiated and contented Obama that broke the news to the American people in a telecast from the White House quite late in the evening on May 1 after keeping them waiting on tenterhooks for a ‘very important’ national security-related announcement by the president.

That the American people-at least a rowdy segment of them-went absolutely wild with elation and un-subdued euphoria was quite in keeping with the nature of chauvinistic machoism that has become the face of US since the cataclysmic nine-eleven. Taking pride in blood-letting has been a historical trait of the Americans but this penchant for unbridled elation at the death of an enemy seems to have become deeply ingrained in the American psyche and persona in the aftermath of 9/11.

Obama has apparently managed to pull off a very successful operation that fully catered to the insatiable blood-lust of the American people. Before this, he has had some very rough time at the hands of the neo cons and the Tea Party nitwits baying for his blood, so much so that barely days before he stunned them all with his ‘triumph’ over Osama, he had to produce his birth certificate, in public, to silence their lunatic cacophony that he wasn’t an American by birth.

Obama’s public approval ratings, teetering at an unimpressive 46 percent before May 1, have jumped overnight to 57 percent. Americans, with their blood-lust satisfied, are now prepared to say that Obama is doing a good job and deserves to be president. Taking advantage of this new sunshine of popular sanction, Obama dashed to New York, on May 5, to mark his solidarity with the victims of 9/11, and especially with the firemen who paid a heavy price of duty in combating that inferno.

Obama has, no doubt, every reason to feel elated and fulfilled in having wiped out the number one enemy of US and the Americans. A war-monger like his predecessor, George W. Bush, must have yearned for such a glory but that was not to be; it was Obama fated to have that coveted ‘honour.’

However, the killing of Osama bin Laden, in that mysterious operation at the dead of night in the garrison city of Abbotabad, Pakistan, still opens far too many new questions than it answers.

For one, why was an unarmed man who put up no resistance, according to the US official version of the incident, and made no attempt to shoot was gunned down with such alacrity?

This is a question agitating every informed mind that believes in the universally accepted axiom that even the most heinous of criminals deserves to be given a trial if he offers no resistance to an attempt, any attempt, to bring the person to justice. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rober Runcie, has raised this question, too, and would like to have an answer from Obama and company.

But answer there is none to this basic and essential question. What’s obvious is that Obama has gone with those whose blood lust for Muslim blood, in particular, remains insatiable as ever. What has been meted out to Osama is typical wild-west, frontier justice, in which there has never been any concept of taking prisoners. ‘Hang’em by the tallest tree’ is standard wild-west justice which gives no quarters to traditional, prosecutorial, justice dispensed to a wanted man. When it comes to revenge and retribution, 21st century US is no different from the 17th century America where the ‘pilgrims’ from Europe-ostensibly fleeing religious persecution-dispensed similar ‘wild justice’ to the native Red Indians and, later, to the black slaves from Africa.

Then, the obscene haste of disposing of the body of the gunned down person, whoever it was, Osama or ‘his double’, as some believe, or anybody else, for that matter, raises not only eye-brows but plethora of questions. Why was the Osama corpse dumped in the sea when he was killed far from the ocean, on land?

The Obama co. has made a very unconvincing effort to tell the world, the Islamic part of it in particular, that Osama was given a ‘proper’ Muslim burial and according to their claim, in keeping with the Islamic requirement to bury the dead with dispatch; within 24 hours, the Obama spokesman said. Is there a 24-hour limit in the Islamic Sharia? Not really, according to the Qur’an and Sunnah.

The explanation for dumping the body in the sea is, according to the White House, that no Muslim country was prepared to give him a patch of earth to bury. Really! Was each one of the 58 sovereign states in the Islamic bloc consulted within a matter of hours by the Obama wizards and got an answer in the negative?

The most apocryphal of the post-Osama killing edicts gushing from the Obama White House is the one that wants the world to believe that the decision to not publish the photographs of Osama’s corpse and burial at sea emanates from fear that it may incite more violence.

That’s as effete and unconvincing an explanation as there could be and smacks of an attempt to cover up something much more unsavoury. It also serves plenty of fodder to those-in Pakistan and many other parts of the world-who doubt and question the whole veracity of the episode of Osama’s killing. General Mirza Aslam Baig, a former Chief of the Pakistan Army is one of such people; he believes Osama was killed in the Tora Bora bombing in 2001, when George W. Bush let loose the full blast of his own frontier justice against the Afghans and their Al Qaeda allies.

It’s obvious that Obama and his minions are refusing to come clean and have something-perhaps a lot-to hide and cover up. Which would, then, play into the hands of those not ready to reconcile to the claim that Osama is finally dead and buried-oh, no, not buried but dumped in the ocean-and that he has already become part of history, as so many mealy-mouthed  and over-zealous, western gurus would want the world to believe.

But irrespective of how much fiction has gone into this brazenly-Hollywood-like adventure, which is being talked about by the Obama supporters and partisans as his ticket to a second term in office, the episode has locked Pakistan into a very unseemly and unsavoury crisis.

Whichever way one may interpret this gung-ho drama-an achievement of unprecedented political and strategic savvy by Obama, or a heroic feat by the US naval ‘seals’ whose professionalism is being eulogized by Obama top down-it has triggered an avalanche of shame and embarrassment for Pakistan.

The way Team Obama has pulled this rabbit out of its hat and stunned the world with something few could have dared to dream about, is a resounding vote of no-confidence in Pakistan, supposedly the closest ‘ally’ of US in the ongoing war on terror.

Pakistan was neither informed nor kept in the loop on this Rambo-like episode. Washington’s official explanation for keeping its front-line ally in the dark is that it was done out of fear that alerting Pakistan in advance might trigger Osama’s fleeing from the scene. In other words, Obama wants the Pakistanis to accept that they are untrustworthy and unreliable. It’s an echo of the accusation routinely slapped on Pakistan that some, if not all, of the elements and personnel in its vaulted intelligence outfit-the controversial and much-hyped-about spy agency, the ISI, were partisans of Osama and were playing a double-game with Washington.

The Pakistani establishment has a lot of explaining to do in the wake of this episode, the debris of which has already fallen heavily on it, and possibly much more is still to come.

It isn’t only the people of Pakistan, but also the international community, are entitled to ask the obvious question: how could it be that the most wanted fugitive from justice in the world was nestling right under the wings of the most prestigious military academy of Pakistan but remained undetected or unbeknown to anyone in the vaunted establishment of Pakistan?

The people of Pakistan feel bruised from both sides: their own government as well as the US establishment.

As far as their political leadership is concerned, the people of Pakistan have but scant faith in its integrity and backbone. They know, for a gospel truth, that men like President Zardari and PM Gilani, are feckless satraps who have sold their soul to US and have been serving its imperialist interests at the expense of Pakistan and its people. The man-on-the-Pakistani-street takes it for granted that these leaders are god’s retributions for the nation’s collective sins.

But the Pakistan army has always had a special place-one of admiration and respect-in the hearts of the Pakistanis. The army, with its immaculate discipline and dexterity has been a subject of awe for most Pakistanis, who subscribed to it as a matter of faith that the army was a guardian of their national interest beyond any iota of doubt.

That abiding faith in the army’s professional calibre has been badly bruised, if not shattered, by this American Rambo-like adventure that has obviously splattered so much egg on the shining face of the Pakistani military brass.

How is it, the man on the street is asking in obvious anguish, that the American helicopters penetrated so deep inside the Pakistani territory-Abbotabad is a good 125 miles from the border with Afghanistan from where the US assault came-but remained undetected? Does it not cast a long shadow of doubt on its competence and capability? Where has all that money been going, which the Pakistanis have been throwing into the military’s lap, at the expense of the country’s neglected socio-economic sector, in the belief that a well-resourced army was essential to keep the country safe and secured?

While the army’s being caught with its pants down in the episode is, no doubt, grating the Pakistani people’s soul, equally infuriating is the rising crescendo of all sorts of accusations and innuendoes from Washington, especially from the law-makers in Congress brazenly threatening Pakistan with dire consequences. The Pakistanis are a proud people and usually treat all those threatening them with contempt. However, in this sordid development they find themselves caught at a very awkward tangent: they don’t know who’s more deserving of their contempt: the gung-ho and trigger-happy Americans or their servile and shameless clients within the Pakistani civil and military establishment?

It goes without saying that the proud Pakistanis would like to put paid to this unnerving and unsavoury episode at the earliest. But before that happens they would like their leaders, especially those in military regalia, to answer the questions weighing so heavily on their conscience. What they would like to see utmost-and at the earliest-is the partisans of both Osama and Obama sorted out and brought o justice, not the Americans-like justice but justice of the civilized people.

For the Americans and Obama, in particular, once the euphoria of Osama’s killing peters out there would be hard questions, too, to answer. Obama may soon discover that dumping Osama in the sea was a far easier proposition than burying his ghost. The most notorious and nettlesome fugitive from American justice may continue to haunt the US establishment and people from his watery grave.   

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 May 2011 on page no. 26

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