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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.

Related Post

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Defining Indo-US partnership

Don't differentiate between terrorists, Mr Obama

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25 Responses to “Did Pakistan know about American plans?”

  1. 1

    Good Blog and well analysed by you. Also make the correction in your sentence "But more about that and on aftershocks of Obama’s death on another day another time".


    Comment on this Comment

    Comments on : Good Blog and well analysed by....

    Comment By : faaiz muhammad

    Well things are different as now Pakistani leaders met with Senetor John Kerry and stated that relations between both the countries should go forward on the basis of mutual respect, mutual trust and mutual interest.
    Senator Kerry stated that US policy has no designs against Pakistan’s nuclear and strategic assets.
    Read More Here

    Comment on this Comment

    Comments on : Good Blog and well analysed by....

    Comment By : Sush

    Done.. Thanks.

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  2. 2

    Dear Sush,

    Very nice analysis. Brilliant actually.

    If what you're saying is true, and these are all conjectures right, then Zardari has just signed his death warrant (I hope not though, but its quite possible). The US will not be able to protect him, like they cudnt with Benazir.

    However, I am not so sure of this part of your theory. Firstly, isnt there talk about the helicopters taking off from teh Ghazi Airbase within Paksitan, which is much closer. One official said four choppers took off and another said 2. If there were 25 SEALs, and one chopper went down, then all of them cud not have taken off in along with Osama's body in one chopper. Which means that either there were four choppers, or the US did take some casualties, which they are rightly keeping under wraps.

    There is also a rumour that Pak did scramble their fighters, fearing it to be an Indian attack, and then the US got them to step down. I dont think that if Zardari had asked the Airforce chief to switch oof the radars, the ISI wud not have come to know about it. Highly unlikely. However, since most equipment in Pak is supplied by US, it is possible that they had some remote kill button (which is why India shud not buy arms from the US)! :-)

    I also dont think that the US wud have risked such an operation without any ground support, which must have been present in places around the house. I also think that they had drones standing by, to kill Osama, if ISI had found out about the US operation and had tried to move him. Thye wud not have allowed Osama to move out of this compound under any circumstances, and must have been under 24x7 satellite surveillance.

    What I wud love to see is if there is some evidence of Kayani or Pasha visiting Osama in that house. That cud be a killer. Think about it, why wud ISI keep him in a safehouse, without phones etc, and not have any contact with him. There must hv been some communication between them, but then again it cud have been thru the couriers only.

    It was an amazingly executed operation and all kudos to the Americans for it.

    Comment on this Comment

    Comments on : Dear Sush, Very nice analys....

    Comment By : Sush

    Well, I very seriously feel that Zardari was involved. Whether he was instrumental in switching off radars or just providing for safe passage of choppers is something which only time will tell.
    Also, Chinese r now saying that electricity to Abottabad was also switched off. Again Zardari's doing, if true.
    Lastly, I hope Zardari doesn't meet the same fate as Benazir and Salman Taseer.

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    Another Comment on : Well, I very seriously feel th....

    Comment By : krishna

    Dear Sush, What about Musharraf,he may have ratted on Osama and he is the guy who gains most from this as he is in trouble because of Benazir killing case.He also benefits from this politically.He can malign the present low credibility Government to force early elections and must have brokered some deal with USA and Western powers to save his skin and can return to Pak as a saviour.

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  3. 3
    Prashanth K.P:

    Phew! Sush, that was mighty swift to put brains to task on 'the subject' of the day all around the world, especially when there were more presumptions & speculations available than the real data.

    However, you too have gathered the strewn links and compounded it to a pretty much plausible conclusion not far from what other sources from around the world are essentially debating, discussing, arguing, perhaps even refuting.

    But bottom line is, yes, if the USA is to be believed, a Satan has found his deserved end in the most justifiable manner.

    Mike Mullen's public statement indicting ISI as a Terror Group and host to a whole lot of terrorist activities in the region stands vindicated. And Mike Mullen is not a bluster like DIGVIJAY SINGH, not inconspicuous like P.CHIDHAMBARAM and not insipid like our PM! A word said is a word meant!

    Well done, once again, Sush!

    Comment on this Comment

    Comments on : Phew! Sush, that was mighty sw....

    Comment By : Sush

    Thank you so much KPP. Like I've said on some other occasions, everyone has to deal with his or her demons personally. US has dealt with theirs. When will we?

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  4. 4
    Happy Kitten:

    US and Pakistan knew about this operation and it is all a part of the game.

    Will US publicly ack that ISI is a terrorist organization specially since OBL was being hidden by ISI? Why not? Do we not continue to see Obama praising Pakistan?

    OBL that US created and later left for Pakistan to nurture lost his teeth a few years ago but in the current scenario and specially for Obama with his ratings plummeting, he seems good enough. The timing for the capture was perfect.

    Even Bush Jr. conjured this trick when he captured Saddam.

    It is time for India to think for herself instead of expecting US to do her job. US is finding ways to get out of this region and now that they have killed OBL, it may get Obama a second term, and everything is fine until the next one in line turns up in Pakistan.

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  5. 5
    Happy Kitten:

    but even those in US are asking questions since much money is involved..

    The U.S. Congress has approved $20 billion for Pakistan in direct aid and military reimbursements partly to help Islamabad fight militancy since bin Laden masterminded the September 11, 2001 attacks.

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    Comments on : but even those in US are askin....

    Comment By : Sush

    Two issues I wish to highlight. One is that that I do not believe that any other Paki except Zardari knew about this plan. Second is that the aid that you are talking about will not be so easy to give. There is too much opposition within the US establishment to go ahead with it so easily.

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  6. 6

    Your analysis makes sense and also explains a lot of things. But I am skeptical that there would be so much divergence between army and airforce. Also doesn't explain how towards the end of the operation Pakis were scrambling their jets. I guess Jardari did play a role: obvious from his body language and Obama's thanks and all, it was not by turning off radar--a high risk venture--but by subtle information sharing through his own ways...

    Comment on this Comment

    Comments on : Your analysis makes sense and ....

    Comment By : Sush

    Well, this is one plausible way things happened. There may be more. I agree.

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  7. 7
    Happy Kitten:

    The way US clears Pakistan from accountability irks me beyond words. Hope you heard how the US representative told the whole world that Pakistan is also a victim of terrorism. (and this is how the aid shall pour again, but tell me why should US pretend to blv this?

    and now that we are very happy the way things are being conducted by the US, why dont we ask US to kill/capture those terrorists in India's wanted list? India cannot do it (dont know why) but it seems US can.. If we cannot do it, might as well outsource it to those capable.

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    Comments on : The way US clears Pakistan fro....

    Comment By : Sush

    Like I've said earlier in response to KPP, we've to deal with our demons ourselves. Why would US do it for us. They've taken their share of risks.

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  8. 8
    Geetesh Sinha:

    This is other thing that whether Pakistan knows about US plan or not.. Main thing is that now it's our turn to wake up and fight towards teriorism. We Indians just know about doing debate and nothing else. No need to ask others to kill our enemies, we have to do it ourself and sure we can do it.

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  9. 9

    @Krishna, Musharraf has been out of power for so long that he really wouldn't know. Though he may have known while he was president. Even if Osama had been there from the time when Musharraf was president he could not have known whether he was still there or not.

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    Comments on : @Krishna, Musharraf has been o....

    Comment By : krishna

    You may be right but Osama never sticked to one place and must have always moved about many hide outs,USA must have tried earlier at other places but may have failed because of tipping of Osama by ISI.Musharraf may not be in Pakistan but being a former General we should not forget he ruled Pak with help of same Army and must be having plenty Sympathizers in Defense establishment.

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    Another Comment on : You may be right but Osama nev....

    Comment By : Sush

    Well, I very much doubt that Musharraf had any idea where Osama was when this operation was conducted.

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  10. 10

    Kya baat kahi hai!! Zardari is responsible. I agree. Good job.

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  11. 11

    Ok these are some issues I want to bring to your attention so that you may take a 2nd look at the events that just took place. It starts with a 3-worded word = Weapons of Mass Destruction. After 9/11 the US jumped headlong into invading Iraq using a baseless pretext while convincing all in the UN that Weapons of Mass Destruction were being amassed and developed by Saddam in mobile laboratories. In fact if you recall back in the 90s there was persistently a cat and mouse chase between UN investigators and saddam's intelligence personale whenever they would visit Iraq. A press briefing conducted by one of the UN's leading investigator revealed that among the team's assignments were CIA, Mossad, M5, etc. and other intelligence undercover operatives who were simply trying to map out where Saddam lived and the best locations to strike. After the Iraq war and the lack of any evidence of Weapons of Mass Destruction, who can justify this war? Yet as we all know Republican-leaders namely Cheney and many others in the Republican neocan-military establishment benefitied immensely financially through private security contracts billed to the US tax payers and billed to a future free Iraqi government as a percentage of its oil output. The deception is obvious. I call your attention to the fact that the key players post-9/11 were no where conspicously absent when Obama invited them to join him at the World Trade center memorial a few days back. Bush declined and Cheney went so far as to say that we should NOT disengage with the Pakistanis b/c that would not be good for us in the future? Thats kind of ironic coming from a man who personally managed the campaign in Afghanistan and who had solid ties to Musharraf. Bush as we all know was just a figurehead. The arguement that ISI was harboring Osama is dubious at best because by all assessments, Osama had long been dead around 2004ish timeframe, but you see both Pakistan and the US neocan establishment needed him alive. In Pak the military needed an excuse to be in power to get the kickbacks from the US and engage half-heartedly in a war on terror, whereas, in the US the neocans not only made money but they also were laying stake to the vast untouched mineral and natural resource wealth that currently Afghanistan and the tribal belt sits on. Had Osama still been alive and had the ISI wanted to keep him safe, the best place would be 10 stories under the GHQ in Pindi where no helicopter or anything could reach him! It doesn't get simpler then that. Right now there is a proxy war being played in this region esp in Pakistan as you accurately pointed out. The democrats and their interests are seeking to pull back from China, pull back from these foreign engagement to focus on internal development and infrastructure work, that which they are best on - that's why most academics and researchers are liberal in the US. The neocons on the other hand are integrally tied to the military and the military complex. They have control of the vast number of businesses and controlled spending of the entire US military budget which is massive. Without cutting back on this spending the US economy is going to tank. Obama and the Dems have sided with Zardari to take on the Republican Neocans who are backing Kiyani and Gilani. In this modern day of age, no one accepts anyone's statement without proof. Does anyone doubt Ajmal Kansi's involvement in the Mumbai attack? No but still a judicial process is required to establish the facts once and for all. But doing a covert operation without showing any clear evidence and then saying we dumped the body overseas, is 180 degrees to the showing of Saddam's gums and teeth to proove to the world at large that they finally caught the mouse in the mouse hole. I've spoken to people all across the world, people who are non-muslim, people who don't have much of a stake in the current Indo-Pak-Afghan situation - they all concur that the facts don't add up. Just yesterday I spoke to a political analyst in Mexico City. She was of the same view, and she also pointed out that the US has started drone attacks against targets in Mexico as well using the Drug War as an excuse. The real cause is elsewhere and it has to do with oil. Mexico is one of the largest oil suppliers of the US, and its oil company is running dry b/c the oil wells it could tap easily w/o much technology are running dry and the vast reserves under its Gulf need foreign companies involvement. The same can be said about the Nuclear Ambitions of Iran. DEBKA file just reported yesterday that the head of Mossad has openly said that any direct attack into Iran would be catastrophic and the most idiotic of actions. This coming from a country which has been scaring the world vis a vis Iran for the past decade or so. Even today India which is heavily dependent on Iranian crude is facing difficulty in making payments. Do you really think Iran would jeopordize all of its economy and assests for a nuclear bomb? Look at Pakistan what did the bomb do for it? Nothing. Iran isn't as dumb. They know the upcoming challenge will be in the energy sector and they want durable sustainability of their economy. Even till today Iran is not allowed due to sanctions to import refinement technology. It has to export its crude and then import back gasoline, thus losing a great deal of income. I remember when the Lebanon war was happening I went to the White House to attend a massive protest rally. The attendance was easily at 30-40,000 people. Helicopters were circling up ahead constantly while the protestors marched around the white house. The protest rally was attended by people from all walks of life and all nationalities and religions. When I reached back home to NJ I switched on CNN - which reported that one thousand protestors were there while a few hundred counter protestors showed up (there were literally 7 of them), and that was the end of that - no pictures, no videos, no nothing. That is when I realized the power of the media. They can distort facts in such a way that the entire masses get fooled. I am no way defending Pakistan or the ISI in its game. But I don't think they are that dumb either. I think the fact of the matter is, how do you proove that Osama was really there. First you say he had no access to the outside world including internet or phone, and then you show him watching sattelite TV or someone who doesn't even look like him. Also, the first picture that the govt released of Osama dead was so fake that they didn't bother changing the shirt or the pillow on which the face was laid, a similar picture of another man was produced just 3 yrs back. Even Musharraf sarcasticly stated that he was surprised that Osama could have been in that compound b/c he often jogged in front of it. There are power games and power politics that are played way beyond our heads, but its not difficult to discern through the deception, thats if you have a lens that is powerful enough!

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    Comments on : Ok these are some issues I wan....

    Comment By : Sush

    Very strong arguments indeed. I agree it's all a game of power and money.
    Firstly, the Iraq war was much less about Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction and more about oil. There is little doubt about it. As are drone attacks in Mexico, quite rightly pointed out by you. And I see Joe Biden's hand in this one at least.
    Secondly, Osama's death is more convenient now for America. I'll talk about it in my next post.
    Thirdly, if Osama was living next doors in Abottabad then and the ISI/army did not know about it, they're the biggest fools on this side of Suez Canal. Having said this, I'd still say that Pakis knew about it though Zardari probably did not. Also, if Osama had been dead long ago Pak would've refuted American claims outright, since they're now facing flak from all quarters.
    Nonetheless, strong arguments. No doubt.

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  12. 12
    nancy boyer:

    Abbotabad is about 100 miles from Srinagar, capital of Kashmir, India and close to Pakistan's distinct control with India, but much further from Afghanistan. Knowing Osama - it's probably that he had a strong hand in aiding insurgents within Indian Kashmir and India. His residence in Abbotabad indicates that quite possible he shifted his focus from attacking the west and USA to Kashmir and India. Most likely he participated in Mumbai 2611. Recently sworn -American citizen terrorist- Faisal Shahzad's family lived nearly Osama, and he clearly had Osama's blessings when he attempted to perform his bombing in Times Square, May 1, 2010 (1 year ago). Osama didn't live in a cave. He lived in a large, high walled well protected structure. Despite that, the long duration of his survival shows clear complicity with the power structure in Pakistan- military and administration.

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  13. 13
    Ophelia Deboe:

    I wonder if Barack is tearing up the White House looking for that old George W. "Mission Accomplished" banner.

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  14. 14

    Simply desire tto say your article is as surprising. The clearness in your post
    is just nice and i could assume you are an expert on this subject.
    Well with your permission let me to grab your
    RSS fed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and
    please continue the gratifying work.

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    You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that such large outpourings of support for Anna Hazare is basically a demand for a phone number, viz 101, which they can call up to register their complaint against neighborhood pandu havaldaar or the municipality clerk who ask for money to do their legitimate jobs. They want a number which is accessible to each and every one so that action is taken against offenders based on their complaint. Though everyone has heard of 2G scam, CWG scam, Adarsh scam etc etc (list is too long for this write up), yet they do not really associate much with it because most of these scams talk about astronomical amounts of money which they cannot relate with. They may have heard of 1.76 lakh crores which was lost in 2G scam but they relate more to that thousand bucks which goes out of their own pockets to corrupt babus and policemen. And if Congress cannot see this basic simple all pervasive demand all I can say is that they're downright stupid and naive. .....

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