Did Pakistan know about American plans?May 3rd, 2011
Alongwith the fact that 02nd of May being the day when Osama Bin Laden has been killed, this is also the day of theories of how did all this happen. Everyone seems to be having one. So here’s mine. Read on.
The entire security apparatus in Pak establishment can be divided into two parts. The first part comprises of people who support and patronize terrorists. These are the people who believe that these extremist groups can serve Pakistan as an instrument of state policy. In the second part are the people who do not really support terrorists per se but either are forced to do so by the first lot or are too weak to do anything else. That’s a fact of life and we need to clearly see the distinction between the two, although there is just a thin line dividing them.
ISI and a large part of Pakistan’s army belong to the first lot. A very clear indicator of ISI’s dubious role came from Admiral Mike Mullen who very recently said that ISI was indeed a terrorist organization, and that too at a time when Americans were indeed preparing for this operation against Osama. Such senior professionals don’t make off the cuff remarks or loose statements like this. I mean, when he made this statement he knew very well where Osama was hiding and who was helping him. And therefore, all this talk of Pakis not knowing where Osama Bin Laden was, is nothing but bullcrap. Also, Osama would be absolutely crazy to build a huge mansion just 600 yards from their military academy in Kakul in Abottabad cantonment where, according to G Parthashastry, even diplomats have to have permission to enter. So, lets not get fooled by this nonsense of Pakis not knowing where Bin Laden was. In fact I’d even go to the extent of saying that ISI not only knew where he was but they even knew what he had for dinner that night since their own people were quite possibly serving and guarding him.
When CIA zeroed down on Bin Laden’s location sometime in last year they did not rush in for the simple reason that this was very high value target and due diligence was needed before such an operation was undertaken. And they did that. They kept tracking him through all possible means available including satellites and drones and what have you. Mind you, Americans have the technology through which they can even read the time on your wrist watch from cameras on their satellites in space.
Bin Laden, on his part, was all this while safely ensconced in this hideout provided by ISI, secure in his belief and faith in ISI’s ‘capability’ to guard him. He wasn’t really moving around much mostly due to his old age and his medical problems. Remember, there were reports that he was on dialysis and stuff like that? Well, if you ask me, the army doctors in Kakul were the ones who were treating him. Add to this the fact that he was staying with his two wives and seven children in this ’safehouse’, and his prolonged stay there is more than amplified.
After having made all the preparations Americans were then in an acute dilemma. Put yourself in Barrack Obama’s shoes for a few moments and you’ll get the whole picture. Given the credibility of Pakistani establishment no CIA man in his right frame of mind could ever tell any Pakistani about their plans. But if they did not, their choppers could be detected in no time since they had to travel more than 200 kms from Afghan border to reach Abbotabad which would take anything between 30-40 minutes one way. Once detected Pakis would know the general direction and destination as well quite easily. They will then have enough time to move Bin Laden to another location. Mind you, this ’safehouse’ was just about a couple of minutes away from the military academy where ISI must’ve had a crack team for this very purpose. As you guys would now appreciate that this distance of 600 yards between this ’safehouse’ and the military academy was by design and not by default.
So what could be done? How could American choppers reach Abottabad without being detected? Well, the answer to that question is that Pak Air Forces’s radars had to be switched off for this purpose during that time. For this reason, Americans had no option but to share at least some part of information with them. Mind you, we’re talking about the Pak AF and not the army. Americans exploited this handicap within the Pak establishment where the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing and vice versa. Quite naturally these AF guys would’ve had no idea where Bin Laden was or for what purpose these choppers would be coming for and would not have been able to establish the real motive.
But Obama could not depend upon lower rung officers in Pak establishment to ensure the success of this operation. There had to be a very senior official like the Pak president Zardari who could order switching off of the radars for them. Please note that Zardari and Pak chief of army General Ashfaq Kayani have no love lost for each other. The Pak PM Geelani on the other hand is quite close to Kayani. So, it had to be Zardari and Zardari only. And therefore, it wasn’t really surprising for me to see Barrack Obama thanking him in that speech he made to announce the success of this operation.
Now the question is whether Zardari knew who the Americans were actually after. Off course he did. Obama had no option but to tell him. Just imagine if he was not told about it and instead was only told that there was some high value target in the general area, won’t Zardari start enquiring from all quarters as to who was ISI hiding there? I mean, he may appear to be whatever but he’s not stupid. That’s for sure. And once he started asking around it wouldn’t have been long before ISI got a whiff of it and deciphered the whole game plan and moved Bin Laden elsewhere.
But even then, I’m quite sure that Zardari was not told everything days in advance. I mean, who knows? Even Zardari cannot be trusted beyond a point. In all probability therefore, he was informed of the details just about an hour or so in advance so as to give him just enough time to make sure that the radars were switched off. And to further sweeten the deal Zardari was assured of more American aid and more F16s and what have you. Who knows? He even might’ve been given some serious options in case he did not comply with Obama’s orders. But Zardari complied with him, completely. After this call he must’ve told Pak Air Force chief of staff, Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman, to do the needful without giving all the details. Incidentally, Suleman is rather close to Zardari than anyone else since he was appointed by Zardari after superseding three other officers for this job.
As you can see for yourself, technically, Pakistan knew about this operation even though Zardari was the only one in Pakistan to be in the know. And guess, who was the person in Pakistan who got the biggest shock of his life upon hearing of Bin Laden’s death? You guessed it. A gentleman(?) by the name of General Ashfaq Kayani. I mean, if ISI was ‘keeping’ Bin Laden there is little doubt that Kayani knew everything about it. After all he’s the ultimate boss of ISI who has very recently given Lt Gen Shuja Pasha, chief of ISI, an extension of a couple of years. And just imagine, Kayani is the same man to whom the Manmohan Singh is trying to talk to these days. But more about that and on aftershocks of Osama’s death on some other day.
Before I sign off let me just say that by helping the Americans, Zardari, who is seemingly a part of the second lot of people who’ve been forced to keep shut in the past, has tried to defy the first lot who patronize terrorists. He must surely have realized this very well and so must’ve Kayani, Geelani, Shuja Pasha and all the others. How all this plays out in the coming few weeks will be all too clear if there is a public war of words between these stakeholders, which is not exactly unlikely. In fact it may even boil down to his removal from his job. Well, I won’t be surprised for sure if this happens.
Lastly, to the world in general Osama Bin Laden’s death is good riddance. And to the kith and kin of those killed in 9/11, finally JUSTICE HAS INDEED BEEN DELIVERED.