9 years and the speculations are still rife about the whereabouts of OBL and his aides. The recent statement of the unnamed “NATO Official” puts his presence in the area between Afghan and Pakistani border, close to Kurram Valley. As if this was a big surprise?
Of course any body with a pea of a brain can decipher that a man supposedly suffering from “kidney ailment” cannot possibly hide in the “caves.” The denial by the Pakistani government was rather swift as usual and the Interior Minister, Mr. Malik categorically put the burden on the NATO Officials to provide credible evidence. Now Mr. Malik may be an Interior Minister, but not a wise one though. In the past as well, we have seen the usual denials on other allegations as the first reaction and when proof was provided to the Pakistani government, there were spins immediately emanating from the spokes holes. Secondly, to exactly pin point where certain people may be present is a merely a reference, which is subject to change at any given moment.
There is a large number of Muslims and especially Pakistanis who believe that Mr. OBL is the proverbial Messiah, the great Mujahid who has given the Allied forces run for their money. He has shown the sign of unmatched courage, resilience and valor. Then there are the usual “conspiracy theorists” who think that OBL and his associates are all CIA operatives and working on behalf of CIA and the GWOT is all an act. They make their passionate case of how the Americans and OBL and his Mujahids were all in cahoots, when the Soviets were the common enemies.
To all the those who some how put their emotions on high pedestal and make quite illogical arguments, I always provide a simple logic to clarify. The American Policy is based on its self interest and subject to change, based on the circumstances. Simply speaking, a domestic pet is harmless and very useful when it protects you and your house, but the moment it starts to attack you or your loved ones, all bets are off the table. You will make every effort to put that pet to sleep. Hence the change of heart of US towards its former allies, subsequent to 09/11 is logical and understandable.
Even in Pakistan, things on the political scene change according to circumstances. We all remember the East Pakistanis as the brothers and when the same brothers were killing West Pakistanis or vice versa, there was no longer the same affiliation and affection for each other. Without going into the details of this dark chapter of Pakistani history, my point is that we cannot solely blame the Americans for doing an overnight U turn without a valid reason.
There is no denying that US Policy of leaving Afghanistan high and dry at the retreat of Soviets was short sighted and wrong. The world saw its repercussions and the ill conceived wars of Bush Administration brought more havoc rather than minimizing it. The world we live in today is quite different from what it was a decade ago.
The common belief that such high value targets such as OBL and his deputies cannot just hide without proper protection by intelligence agencies on both sides of the Af Pak border, holds a lot of weight. The troublesome or perplexing part of this whole episode is that, 9 years and no trace, is this an abject failure of the intelligence community? Or is there a valid shadow of doubt looming over some elements who may be shielding these leaders.
There are some scribes and analysts who hold the opinion that OBL and his deputies merely hold a symbolic value. There presence is sort of a catalyst, more for the strategic reasons. This is a war of ideologies and the flag bearer Al Qaeda, has is not so dependent on a hierarchial structure.
On the other hand, the brutes and barbarians in the Pakistani backyard are glorifying these leaders and unleashing countless attacks on common Pakistani folks. All this to demonstrate their displeasure of the American presence in the region. People who buy into all of this are strongly cautioned that even if the Americans were to pack their bags from the region, this murder and mayhem will not see any respite.
Although unlikely, but even if the high value targets are caught or killed by the Allied forces, this genie will not go back into the bottle, so to speak.
The culture of terrorism is so pervasive in the region that nothing short of a miracle, can eradicate it.
The only way out of the mess, is to create, cultivate and nurture a culture that derides and condemns the violence to its fullest extent. Simply speaking, if a product has no potential buyers, it is destined to fail and will be off the market rather quickly.