Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Not To Be Left Out

This week, it’s all about Osama’s death of course. I cannot rejoice – I simply cannot bring myself to celebrate somebody’s death. At the same time, this death was necessary. I hear people say he shouldn’t have been shot but should have been captured and sent to prison to rot instead. I don’t agree. We’ve seen what happens when convicted terrorists are sent to prison instead of being executed - hijacking, kidnapping, hostage taking – innocent lives put on the line in return for the release of a terrorist so that he can unleash more terror.

That said and done, while the US has finally got its revenge, I am convinced that Osama’s death will not significantly curb terrorist activities across the world. My belief is that Osama’s influence has waned over the past few years – his activities and movements had to be severely curtailed, his public appearances and fiery speeches had to come to an end, his exchanges with others had to be necessarily limited even as newer terrorist organisations were forming and new would-be-terrorists were joining these outfits – all this has led to a scenario where he is not as important a figure in the terrorist world today as he was a few years ago.

And let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that his death is going to make India safer. Al Qaeda’s traditional focus has been much more on the US, Europe and the Middle East. In India, it is the Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Laskhar-e-Toiba which are the most active terrorist organisations, and I assume they will continue to be so. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are able to use Osama’s death to step up their activities and attract more recruits.

Meanwhile, I am convinced that the Pakistani establishment knew about Osama’s presence in their country. Maybe they helped hide him, or maybe they just decided to turn a blind eye to his presence and be discreet about it, but there is no way they did not know. Come on, he stays in a town not very far from the capital, in a town with a large military presence, and seems to have been leading a very comfortable and normal life. I’m assuming Abbottabad is like any small town in India – you know everything that is going on in the house of everyone in your street – so how could the renting of a mansion by a stranger in the town go unnoticed and unobserved?

My theory is that the Pakistani establishment knew – maybe they provided active help to Osama in hiding or maybe they decided to just turn a blind eye and let him be. Two things may have led to Pakistan finally letting the US in on Osama’s whereabouts –one, Osama was no longer as important to Pakistan as he was a few years ago when he was a much more active terrorist leader and fundraiser; two, the US may has stepped up pressure on Pakistan (for reasons related to domestic politics in the US).

So no, I don’t buy that Pakistan didn’t know about the US operation beforehand. Even if they didn’t disclose information on Osama’s whereabouts, they atleast knew what the US was going to do. I mean, the US was flying many miles into Pakistani airspace, and over an area with significant military presence and lands up at the mansion of the most wanted terrorist of all time to find him unprotected and unarmed. Right! Again, I believe the Pakistani establishment knew beforehand about the US operations (even if they didn’t themselves help the US in the hunt for Osama) – but it is of course in their best interest to pretend that they didn’t know the first thing about it, lodge a weak protest with the US, and then wag fingers at India.

This isn’t the end of it. There’s more to come. And I am curious to see how it all unfolds!


smartassbride said...

This was written 10 years ago, I have a feeling you might have read it already. If not, it's here:


Ramya said...

@SAB: I normally disagree with Arundhati Roy (though I love how she writes), but on this topic, I would have to say she is spot on!

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