The man named OBL


Osama is dead. Long live Osama. That is what thousands of his Pakistani and non-Pakistani sympathisers and followers believe. A large number of them even refuse to accept that he is dead, while many think that he had died many years ago, but for some odd reason, the Americans had kept it a secret, flown his dead body to Abbottabad and stage managed his death. Although Al-Qaeda has announced that OBL is dead, many of his admirers are not ready to accept it. Some American detractors of President Obama are helping them to undermine his growing popularity.

This attitude is, however, not new or unique. Many admirers of Hitler kept him alive for years as did those of Indian nationalist leader, Subash Chandar Bose. OBL too was a larger than life figure. He was the maker of 9/11 which changed the history of the world. There is no doubt that the act of terrorism executed by Al-Qaeda on 9/11, unassisted by any state agency was unbelievable. Many are still incredulous that the low IQ Arabs could perform such a feat, therefore, think that either CIA or Mossad itself had done it to defame the Muslims, denigrate Islam and take over Afghanistan.

The fact that millions of Muslims hated the US, OBL attracted the extremists from amongst them who believed in his interpretation of Jihad and joined Al-Qaeda to fight the infidel pro-Jewish US which was waging a war against Islam itself. OBL also enjoyed the absolute loyalty of his admirers. Although the US had put a head money of $ 50 million, he was not betrayed by any, had successfully eluded their hunt while maintained the organisational control over Al Qaeda, without the use of any modern technology. All these combined to make him a legendary figure, loved and admired by millions.

But what did OBL achieve by all this? If his aim was to destroy the economic and military power of the US, he had failed. If it was to overthrow the corrupt and rotten regimes in the Muslim countries, he had failed. If it was to unite the Umma, he had failed. If it was to restore Khilafat, he had failed. If it was to revive Islam, he had failed.

On the other hand he gave the worst possible name to Islam in its history. His followers practiced most gruesome acts of violence in the name of Islam, which clearly opposes all violence except in self-defence. But Al-Qaeda operatives indulged in killing the infidel Jews and Christians as well as apostate Muslims in the name of Jihad against the anti-Islam Americans. OBL never tried to stop them or even condemned the animal like slaughtering of human beings or shooting them at point blank range in full view of the camera with Kalima or Allah-u-Akbar written in the background or on the foreheads of the assassins. Thus they created an image of Islam which only evoked world wide fear and revulsion.

It is also ironical that in death, OBL caused great damage to his benefactors, our military and the ISI. They cannot explain his presence in Abbottabad for over five years. They cannot deny that he was there. They cannot admit that they did not know. They cannot confess that they knew. On top of that, within four weeks, the Mehran happened. A small band of terrorists entered its compound by jumping over its wall, gutted the two Orions, fought navy commandos for over 14 hours, inflicted heavy damage to the entire base. But not a siren cried nor a bell rang, no CCTV cameras got activated. So what happened to billions they receive every year from the treasury? Perhaps, it was all spent on marriage halls and bowling alleys.

The high-ups do not know how to explain all this. There is a growing rumour of an inside job. Pakistanis and foreigners alike are asking awkward questions about the safety of our nuclear assets. Can they protect it if they could not detect the intrusion of five US helicopters for over an hour? Whether there was complicity or intelligence failure, only the high-ups know, but either way they feel humiliated.

My advice would be, a) please do not hide the truth, because sooner or later it will come out. b) If it was intelligence failure, it happened on 9/11, 7/7 (London) 26/11/2008 (Mumbai) and in several other countries. So it does not mean failure on the part of our high-ups though that does not exonerate them from their own shortcomings. Two wrongs do not make a right and that those who do not learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them. So the question is: are our high-ups going to learn from these two colossal mistakes. The chances are that they will not, for three reasons, a) their hubris has reached the point of madness, b) their conviction that all politicians are incompetent, has become ingrained and c) their interest in further education ends on the day of the passing out parade.

Since time immemorial, prophets and sages alike have preached three basic lessons for self-improvement, (a) humiliation (b) realisation of one’s imperfections and (c) hard work to attain excellence.

So dear generals, please practice these virtues to attain perfection and then you will not need to look for strategic depth elsewhere because you will find it within yourselves. You will also be able to better perform your primary duties of guarding Pakistan’s frontiers, protecting your own bases and be disabused of the arrogance that you can govern the country better than the civvies.

According to the international media, the South Koreans, who wanted to learn from us in the 60s, have built three floating islands, first ever in human history. These are built not by the Korean military, though they are supposed to be better than ours, but by scientists and engineers. The whole nation is proud of them. They are also very proud of their military which no longer tries to dabble in country’s politics.


The writer is a former Ambassador of Pakistan.



  1. Wisdom to borrow from…

    A must read for the leaders of the Country.

    I salute you Mr. Alam.

  2. Salam,
    A very nice piece of writing, but our generals and politicians are way too arrogant to learn from their mistakes, in fact they don't even admit them.

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