Friday, May 06, 2011

Pakistan and the end of Bin Laden

Aljazeera English has a 47-minute discussion on Pakistan, terrorism and the US, posted on YouTube 05/05/2011 PDT:

Here is a 24-minute discussion from a day earlier, which brings out how important India is in Pakistan's foreign policy and how that affects US-Pakistan relations:

Tom Hayden, who has been watching - and opposing - wars for decades, has an interesting speculation based on the fact that Osama bin Laden seems to have been rather surprisingly lightly defended, according to the accounts available when he wrote this. Hayden doesn't present it as anything other than speculation, but it's a clever one (Question: Why was Bin Laden so lightly guarded? Peace and Justice Resource Center 05/03/2011):

Apparently, there was no Internet service at the compound, so online meetings with other Al Qaeda leaders or cadre were difficult or impossible. A courier was Bin Laden's slow mode of communication, not Skype.

Perhaps this suggests a different role by Pakistan. What were they to do? They could not hand Bin Laden over to the Americans. They could not arrest him, jail him, try him, convict him. They could not or would not kill him. But they could shelter him in exchange for an unknown agreement on the parameters of his behavior. They could offer him a life in semi-retirement, perhaps with dialysis treatment. If so, the rent Bin Laden paid must have been significant. This might have been the most pragmatic arrangement at which the Pakistani military could arrive.

Then, last July, the Americans found the trail of the courier and, shortly after, the compound was targeted. This may be the back story of the growing antagonism between the U.S. and Pakistani governments, militaries and spy agencies, even the recent blow-up over the CIA contractor Raymond Davis, arrested and finally released after killing two Pakistani nationals in March. President Obama lied about Davis’ CIA affiliations and American diplomats put on enormous pressure before Davis was released. Davis was investigating Pakistani militants in a top-secret operation, which could mean he was on the trail of Bin Laden.

In this imagined scenario, the Americans became certain that Bin Laden was hidden in the compound, and possibly made Pakistan an offer it could not refuse. We know you have Bin Laden under protective custody, they might have said, and now you must give him up or face the consequences. It remains to be investigated further, but how could it be accidental that the Pakistani military didn’t begin “scrambling their forces,” according to the Times, until the very time the Americans had finished the job, packed up the body, and turned over the women and children to Pakistani soldiers who were conveniently present?
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