Not knowing the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden has been an intelligence failure not only of Pakistan but the whole world, claimed the prime minister at a business forum in Paris. Yes, the whole world. Bolivia? Burkina Faso? Mauritius?
Diplomats and political government officials are clutching in the dark at whatever they can grasp in the aftermath of the Abbottabad episode. The foreign secretary’s press briefing yesterday was also an exercise in the same, if only more suave than the premier’s. By now, it is clear that the real answers lie not in the political government or the civil bureaucracy but the deep (and thick) state. On that front, the corps commanders’ conference, which was convened yesterday specifically to discuss the Osama stakeout, declared that events of the sort are not going to be tolerated in the future. And, if there were a repetition, the level of military assistance with the US would be reviewed. The council of wise men, it appears, has dropped the pretense of being subservient to the political government. That the nature of relations with another country is their call; too serious a matter to be left to those elected by the teeming millions of the hapless republic. Even if that scheme of things were true, the brass is tempting fate with statements of the sort. One American official after another is claiming that the US reserves the right to undertake another such attack in the future if it has the requisite intelligence leads. Would it be a violation of our sovereignty and international law? Yes. But things aren’t so black-and-white anymore with the presence of the world’s most wanted terrorist from the garrison city of Abbottabad, that too, in the vicinity of the country’s premier military academy.
Even the vilest, most rabid detractors of the political class are hard pressed to somehow pin this on the political government. That line of argument doesn’t stick anymore. Nor is the testosterone-laden press release that the ISPR issued yesterday acceptable anymore. As the bard Dylan would say, the times, they are a-changing.