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Edge on Terrorism

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Death of Osama bin Laden Greeted by Silence from Pakistani Military and Intelligence

May 2nd 2011

Terrorism - Osama bin-Laden preaching

In the eary morning hours of May 2 in Pakistan there was news of low-flying U.S. helicopters over the city of Abbotabad, in the Khyber Pukhtun Khawa region. Three loud blasts were heard near the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) at Kakul. There were reports that these helicopters were carrying out an operation on a compound in Abbotabad City.

The Central Intelligence Agency initiated an operation that succeeded in killing Osama bin Laden, the chief of al Qaeda. The Americans have reportedly taken the body into custody. President Barack Obama confirmed the killing in a televised message. According to U.S. media, the operation was completed in 40 minutes at a compound rented by 2 Afghani nationals. Reportedly, the Pakistani intelligence services played a vital role in the operation, monitoring the compound for the past several months.

Surprisingly, while the rest of the world is celebrating the news of the killing of Osama bin Laden, the Pakistani Government was quiet for some time: no military official issued any reaction or statement on the incident even while the operation was carried out on Pakistani soil. Defense analysts expect a the worst type of backlash in Pakistan over the incident. Pakistani liberals welcomed the news, and some students at a local university in Islamabad celebrated, as did others in Lahore and Karachi. But the situation in Abbotabad is different: the city is deserted. Only Army officials are on the streets, while some local media are glorifying Osama bin Laden.

Syed Munawar Hasan, a member of parliament for Ameer Jamat-e-Islami, denied the reports, telling the media that this is but  propaganda directed against Pakistan. Another Member of the National Assembly Marvi Memon criticized the Pakistani government, she said, “Where is our President? Where is our Prime Minister? Where is our sovereignty? Why was an operation authorized on our soil without taking the parliament into confidence? President Obama is the President of America, not Pakistan; where is our President? Why didn't he address the nation? Our men, women and children have been killed in the so called war against terror.”

The Prime Minister in a meeting with the cabinet, military officials and the intelligence agencies, termed the killing of Bin laden as a victory in the war against terror. The government will issue a statement to avoid a backlash. The Pakistani extremist school of thought is not happy about the news. The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Taliban have said that reports of Bin-Laden’s death are fraudulent, claiming that he is alive, while the Afghan Taliban have denounced the reports. Retired Brig. and former Chief of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Hameed Gul said, “The statements by the Americans don’t seem a reality, in the visuals of Osama, he seems much younger and they claim that no American was killed in the helicopter crash, I doubt all this. Obama is a smart person, this is a great start to his election campaign. The time is tough for Pakistan now.”

Pakistani Government officials and the Military officials have refused to comment on the situation. ISI Public’s Relations has also not issued any statement on the operation. Some analysts think that al Qaeda’s network in Pakistan and Afghanistan will weaken, but others think that it will respond more aggressively. There are reports that the U.S. and its allies are planning to close their embassies in Pakistan for some time to avoid any backlash. The Pakistani people are awaiting an official statement from the Prime Minister and the President. Pakistani political parties are reluctant to comment on the matter, while many Christian institutions have closed their offices and several schools across Pakistan have been shut down to avoid any reaction.

Rodrick Samson reports from Pakistan for Speroforum.

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