Pakistan, You Got Some `Splainin’ To Do

How exactly was the most wanted man in the world able to hide in this house without anyone in Pakistan knowing about it?

The news that Osama bin Laden was killed in a raid in Pakistan raises, inevitably, all of the old questions about just how reliable an ally Pakistan is in the War on Terror:

The extraordinary discovery that Osama bin Laden had been living, possibly since 2005, in a luxury compound in a popular summer resort a short drive from the national capital, Islamabad, is an enormous and dangerous embarrassment for Pakistan’s government.

Officials from President Asif Ali Zardari downwards have consistently maintained that the al-Qaida chief was not sheltering on Pakistani soil, suggesting instead that the Americans look for him elsewhere, particularly in Afghanistan. The Pakistani stance was part of a wider policy of denial, dating back to the 9/11 attacks, premised on the argument that Pakistan was not the source and springboard for Islamist-inspired terrorism but rather its principal victim.

(…)

The extraordinary discovery that Osama bin Laden had been living, possibly since 2005, in a luxury compound in a popular summer resort a short drive from the national capital, Islamabad, is an enormous and dangerous embarrassment for Pakistan’s government.

Officials from President Asif Ali Zardari downwards have consistently maintained that the al-Qaida chief was not sheltering on Pakistani soil, suggesting instead that the Americans look for him elsewhere, particularly in Afghanistan. The Pakistani stance was part of a wider policy of denial, dating back to the 9/11 attacks, premised on the argument that Pakistan was not the source and springboard for Islamist-inspired terrorism but rather its principal victim.

Given all the doubts of the past ten years, and the fact that bin Laden was hiding not in the Hindu Kush but in a compound mere miles from the Pakistani Military Academy, it’s no surprise that we didn’t bother to tell the Pakistani what we were doing until after the raid was over. This raid was simply far too important to trust even one piece of information to an “ally” whose reliability is questionably at best.

Of course, we don’t know what the real problem in Pakistan is, but neither explanation seems to bring all that much comfort:

“It is a bit embarrassing, that even if he was hiding there, [the Pakistani army] would not know,” said Rahimullah Yusufzai, a Pakistani journalist who is an expert on militancy in the country’s northwest. “It means your intelligence is not good.”

A Pakistani intelligence official said bin Laden’s high-walled refuge not far from Islamabad had escaped the agency’s notice. “If we knew that he was hanging out there, we would have caught him earlier.”

Basically, either the Pakistanis are corrupted by intelligence officials that are easy to bribe, or their incompetent (or possibly a combination of both). Whatever the explanation, though, it seems pretty obvious that Pakistan remains part of the problem rather than part of the solution and that, regardless of how much the President used diplomatic language last night to credit Pakistan with helping in the fight against al Qaeda, they really can’t be trusted.

Basically, the ball is now in Pakistan’s court. They need to explain just how it’s possible that the most wanted man in the world happened to be able to hide out in a residential area just a short drive from Islamabad for as long as six years without  them even getting a hint that he might be there. Something about that just doesn’t pass the smell test.

 

FILED UNDER: Asia, National Security, Terrorism, World Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Jay Tea says:

    I can’t believe it. I used the same damned ‘splainin’ line in my piece. Curse you, Doug!

    One quibble: I heard it was about half a mile from Pakistan’s version of West Point.

    J.

  2. sam says:

    “Pakistan, You Got Some `Splainin’ To Do”

    The ISI made us do it.

  3. Nancy Tracy says:

    I used the ‘splainin to do line in a commentary as well. Irresistible I guess. To fully confess, I double dipped in old TV pop culture with another reference, comparing Pakistan to Sergeant “I know nothing” Schultz of Hogan’s Heroes.

  4. Jay Tea says:

    Nancy, I saw someone else using the Schultz bit, and Ace also took the ‘splainin’ route. Guess some things are that deep in our collective cultural consciousness…

    J.

  5. Nancy Tracy says:

    TV is our common cultural reference point. What’s funny is I used your West Point comparison, too. Must all be universal truth!