Osama’s death has effectively removed a daunting icon of terror from the scene, which not only defied the U.S. for almost a decade but brought a wave of devastation and violence to thousands of Muslims in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Let us hope his lurking shadows will also disappear from the scene for good!
The world woke up with the startling news all over the media last Monday announcing the unpredicted killing of the Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by the American Forces.
Nine years after launching a gigantic military campaign and spending millions of dollars, America was ready to declare that the most wanted terrorist has been killed by its forces deep inside the Pakistani territory, just a mile away from the Pakistan Military Academy in Abottabad.
In a televised speech on Sunday night, President Obama announced that Osama, who successfully dodged the world for nine years, has been killed and his dead body has been buried into the depth of the Arabian Sea. Obama’s carefully chosen words positioned the stunning event in the proper historical context:
“For over two decades, bin Laden has been Al-Qaeda’s leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies. The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat Al-Qaeda.”
He declared in inconspicuous terms that the U.S. has full capacity and power to operate within Pakistan without hindrance along with a huge network of intelligence gathering agencies that have minute-to-minute information on what is going on in the country.
“Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was. That is what we’ve done.”
While Obama openly justified American infiltration inside the Pakistani territory, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad, on the other hand, boldly and shamelessly accepted the U.S. rights to infiltrate wherever they want in Pakistan, in a press release on Monday:
“This operation was conducted by the US forces in accordance with declared US policy that Osama bin Ladin will be eliminated in a direct action by the US forces, wherever found in the world…Pakistan has played a significant role in efforts to eliminate terrorism. We have had extremely effective intelligence sharing arrangements with several intelligence agencies including that of the US. We will continue to support international efforts against terrorism.”
Although President Obama recognized that the operation was accomplished in collaboration with the Pakistani intelligence agencies, the task was accomplished by the American forces alone, he promptly clarified:
“But it’s important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding. Indeed, bin Laden had declared war against Pakistan as well, and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people.”
If Pakistan provided information leading to the attack on Osama’s compound as President Obama indicated in his speech, the plummeting relations of Pakistan and the United States might thaw for some time. In that case, we should be hearing from the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) soon that issues have been resolved between the two countries and the mutual relations are on the right track based on the “invaluable principles of mutual trust and collaboration.”
For the time being, of course, the incident will put the tension in the back burner but hard realities will reemerge after the initial cool-down period. Not a bad news for the Pakistan army which has been a consistent target of the American criticism for some time blaming them to shield some of the Taliban groups.
However, it is also widely circulated in the American media that it was the U.S. intelligence agency that has been tracking down Osama for the last 8 months. If this is true, people might be wondering why the Pakistan armed forces did not know about Osama’s hideout right under the nose of the Military Academy in Abottababad? Or else, the army itself might have been hiding Osama under its wings?
The killing, however, will further justify the expected withdrawal of the U.S. army from Afghanistan which has already made up its mind for a possible exodus by 2014 or later. After accomplishing the initial mission to get Osama “dead or alive” set forth by the junior President Bush when he invaded Afghanistan, there is little justification for keeping over a 100,000 U.S. army in Afghanistan anyway. If that happens, there will be far-reaching consequences for the region and the world at large, depending on geopolitical developments in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.
For sure the possible U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan will diminish the wave of fundamentalism in the region which gained strength after the American invasion in 2001. Radical groups will lose moral grounds of continuing violence against the government and innocent citizens. It will also weaken conservative political parties in Pakistan who gained substantial popularity among the masses for opposing the invasion and thus becoming a significant political force just after the U.S. invasion in 2001.
It is too tempting, however, for the United States to keep its presence in this strategically significant region which is also in the vicinity of China, Iran and Pakistan, and in the backyard of the mineral-rich Central Asia. Chances are America might end its combat mission, limit its military presence to a significant level but keep military bases in Afghanistan. The U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has expressed exactly the same wish in a recent meeting with President Karzai of Afghanistan.
In the aftermath of Osama bin Laden, it will be easier for the United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan to isolate the Taliban from Al-Qaeda and engage them in a meaningful dialogue with an objective to involve them in the political process. It looks they have already been bought into the idea of involving the Taliban in negotiations.
In the best possible scenario of the post-Osama and post-U.S. Afghanistan, the country will take a slow but consistent ride on the road to development, democracy, and a state of comparative peace. However, this will happen if the U.S. led alliance decides not to abandon the country after withdrawal in its current condition and make a sincere commitment to give peace and development a chance. This might assist the unfortunate Afghans to come out of the long and dreadful night of darkness and violence to a new dawn of progress and peace.
Of course the news is a demoralizing, bad omen for the Al-Qaeda network but many believe the reign of terror unleashed by Osama will hardly go away. On the contrary, some also expect that his ghost might come back in Afghanistan and Pakistan to remind us that his death does not mean demise of the network. For the terrified people of the region whose life has been devastated by the ever-increasing violence that is hardly a good prediction.
Osama’s death has effectively removed a daunting icon of terror from the scene, which not only defied the U.S. for almost a decade but brought a wave of devastation and violence to thousands of Muslims in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Let us hope his lurking shadows will also disappear from the scene for good!
(From Viewpoint Online)