Did Islamabad play a role in helping Osama bin Laden hide in Abbottabad?
Former Pakistani envoy Husain Haqqani’s article in the Washington Post has opened the floodgates of hypocritical accusations in Pakistan as top political parties turn on each other over the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad by U.S. Special Forces. The ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) wants Pakistan Peoples Party chief Asif Ali Zardari to hang for treason because he appointed Haqqani as ambassador to the U.S., thereby, they reason, allowing Abbottabad to be attacked. The PPP, meanwhile, wants Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif investigated for allegedly taking money from Osama bin Laden. In the process, the real crisis of the state remains ignored.
Pakistan deliberately misinterpreted bin Laden’s killing to hide the internal weakness of security officials siding with militants and joining Al Qaeda. Writing in daily The News on March 18, lawyer-columnist Babar Sattar put his finger on what has gone wrong: “The suspicion that there might have been a combination of incompetence at the top and complicity at some level hasn’t vanished entirely.”
This has been substantiated repeatedly. Air Force officer Adnan Rashid defected to Al Qaeda in 2003 after training at a Mansehra terrorist camp and was imprisoned for trying to kill Army chief Gen. (retd.) Pervez Musharraf. However, he was sprung from Bannu jail and continued killing innocent Pakistanis before an American drone caught up with him. Two brothers, Major Haroon Ashiq and Captain Faisal Ashiq from the Commandos regiment also joined Al Qaeda. Haroon killed a major-general in Islamabad in 2008 on orders from Al Qaeda and Faisal died fighting for Al Qaeda in Afghanistan’s Helmand.
A more recent case occurred in Karachi. A police constable named Kamran reportedly joined the banned Al Qaeda-linked Sipah-e-Sahaba/Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and helped them kill reputable police official Chaudhry Aslam in 2014. Similar cases proliferate if you lend credence to the confessions of Pakistani Al Qaeda agents Daud Gilani and Ajmal Kasab in India; but in our nationalistic zeal, we ignore them because they delivered their comments to a court in ‘perpetual enemy’ India.