Embarrassing Pakistan’s military

Pakistanis are asking themselves how the raid in Abbottabad could have happened without the help of the Pakistani military and how Osama bin Laden's presence could have remained unknown.

The killing of Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil raises “very disturbing questions” for this country, said the Peshawar Frontier Post in an editorial. People are “really horrified” that U.S. special operations forces could send four helicopters undetected across the border and into the heart of a military garrison. Bin Laden’s hideout in the town of Abbottabad was “just a stone’s throw” from Pakistan’s premier military academy, a heavily guarded site. The Americans were engaged in their violent raid at this location for almost an hour, “yet this intrusion drew no response either from the army or the air force.” Our military comes off looking utterly incompetent. Flushed with their success, the Americans will surely be emboldened “not only to intensify their drone incursions but also to mount ground raids wherever they want on our territory.”

The violation of our sovereignty isn’t even the most embarrassing aspect of the raid, said Kamran Shafi in the Karachi Dawn. “It is more important to ask why our much-vaunted Deep State didn’t know” that bin Laden was living in a million-dollar compound right down the street from top military officers. The property had a huge red fence around it. “The quite preposterous house should have stuck out like a sore thumb.” Such a place, in such a sensitive military neighborhood, must surely have drawn the curiosity of the country’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency. Yet military and security officials have always turned “blue and red with anger” at the suggestion—from reporters, including me; from U.S. officials; and from Afghan leaders—that bin Laden must be in Pakistan. “I can only say if they didn’t know, why didn’t they know?”

We’re not that incompetent, said Raza Rumi in The Express Tribune. While the Pakistani military is pretending “for political reasons” that it was informed of the raid only afterward, “it should be obvious that all this couldn’t have happened without its active help.” The recent media storm over strains in the relationship between the CIA and Pakistan’s spy agency, the ISI, was obviously just trumped up to deflect criticism of what must be their enhanced cooperation. “Stories were spun for domestic political consumption in both countries.”

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Sorry, but the “time for denial is over,” said Dawn. The idea that Pakistani intelligence didn’t know that the world’s most wanted terrorist was living peacefully in the very shadow of the military establishment beggars belief. If it’s true that the ISI knew where bin Laden was and protected him, we’re in serious trouble. “As positive a development as Osama bin Laden’s removal is, for the Pakistani state it should be a moment for deep and honest reflection.” We have to change our ways, said Amir Zia in the Islamabad News. “The world is justified in its demand that Pakistani soil should not be used for terrorism against any country or provide shelter to the extremists.” But it is most of all in our own interest to root out terrorist havens. Let’s challenge Pakistan’s leaders to “turn this incident into an opportunity to get rid of the twin monsters of terrorism and extremism that have bled Pakistan more than the United States.”

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