As a Pakistani, the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death brought a mixture of emotions:
Relief – Well that’s one less “problem” to worry about.
Skepticism – Yeah right, he was in Abbottabad! Just how in the whole world was he a stone’s throw from the Military training academy in Kakul and no one knew about it?
Dismay – The claim that he was in Pakistan all these years was true!
Fear – May Allah protect us (the citizens of Pakistan) from the backlash that is surely going to stem from this.
Cynicism – So what if he’s dead? There are many more such monsters out there that will continue to haunt us.
Anger – Why is the Pakistani government / military not issuing any statements about an event in which they obviously participated.
Mistrust – Was Osama Bin Laden really alive all these years? Or was he part of some grand conspiracy? Why did they do a sea burial without showing the body to anyone?
Sadness – A misguided individual died without being able to see the light.
After trying, unsuccessfully, to get my son out of bed to get ready for school, I sat on the bed and checked my email.
The subject “Turn on CNN or whatever news station you listen to” catches my eye!
Seems like the US has Bin Laden’s body. Obama is going to give a speech in a few mins!
A quick channel flip on the TV (sorry Diego, Bin Laden was more important right then). Lo and behold we have the CNN people claiming OBL died last week in a “mansion near Islamabad”. So the next move is to see what my tweeps on Twitter say. And then this post on Osama and whether he’s alive (reproduced below) I wrote back in June 2009 pops up in my head!
Seems like OBL has finally run out of lives. Killed in an operation carried by US Forces in Abbottabad, in an operation inadvertently tweeted by fellow Pakistani Tweeter Sohaib Athar. Well in a way good riddance really, however, the question that leaves to be asked is:
Oh and for the record, to all the media people saying he was killed “near Islamabad”, Abbottabad is not near Islamabad!
Osama Bin Laden, the 25th son of Mohammed Bin Laden, a Saudi billionaire of Yemeni origins, carries a USD 25 Million price tag on his head. Among his alleged claim to fame are being Number One on the FBI Top 10 Most Wanted list, wanted for the bombing of US Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya (1998), creating a gaping hole in the skyline of New York City (what is commonly referred to as 9/11), and finding a way to speak from the grave.
Around the end of 2001, OBL was thought to be dead by several governments around the world, including that of George W. Bush. His video released in December 2001 prompted the following comments from CNN Terrorism analyst Peter Bergen:
“This is a man who was clearly not well. I mean, as you see from these pictures here, he’s really, by December he’s looking pretty terrible. But by December, of course, that tape that was aired then, he’s barely moving the left side of his body. So he’s clearly got diabetes. He has low blood pressure. He’s got a wound in his foot. He’s apparently got dialysis … for kidney problems.
I mean, this is a man who has a number of health problems, apart from the fact that anybody running around the Afghan mountains is not going to be in great shape.”
A wounded, almost dying OBL in 2001 revived miraculously and was in the best of health in 2004 (must be that great hospital in Tora Bora or a real life Benjamin Button). Following this, over the years, several people have voiced their belief that OBL was no longer amongst us. Hamid Karzai, Benazir Bhutto, Pervez Musharraf, FBI, and Israeli Intelligence all have publicly stated that OBL is dead.
- 2001 and 2004 – Miraculous cure?
Based on the intelligence and the statements of the above mentioned, it can only be that OBL was conveniently replaced by an actor. Since then he (and his boy Ayman Al-Zawahiri) have a knack of appearing with a new production conveniently coinciding with major events on the US Political calendar. Just last week, a group of friends were discussing how OBL, Mullah Omar, and Zawahiri were missing in action. And this week to coincide with Obama’s maiden trip to the Middle East and Richard Holbrooke’s visit to Pakistan, we see OBL speak up from the dead. How convenient.
- OBL & Zawahiri (in 2001)
What lends credence to the beliefs of many, of OBL now inhabiting a Tora Bora on the other side of the mortality divide, is that the last video of OBL was seen in October 2004 (OBL’s messages) and all subsequent messages from OBL have been audio tapes or videos with a voice over. Thus, it is theorized that the man we now believe to be OBL is in fact an actor. More on this can be found here.
But whether this OBL is the real man, or whether he is a better and more improved version (OBL 2.0 or Osama Bin Elvis as Angelo M. Codevilla refers to him), the question that one should ask is this. Why is it that a man whose head carries a tag of more than USD 25 million has not been found yet? Surely someone out there would be so tempted by that figure. And why can’t the US (or any other country’s intelligence agencies) find OBL? In an era where you can see someone on the street of New York using Google Earth from Antarctica, is it really that hard to find this guy? Or is it just that everyone’s looking in the wrong place? Instead of the mountains of Afghanistan (or even Pakistan as some speculation goes), maybe the US Intelligentsia should be looking for OBL 2.0 in a desert 83 miles from Las Vegas.
Some Suggested Links
It is said that Emperor Nero fiddled while Rome burnt. The phrase ‘’Let them eat cake” is attributed to Queen Marie Antoinette, purported to be said at the peak of a bread crisis in post-revolution France. Whether these alleged incidents are true or not is a matter of debate for historians. We can only discuss that which is here, that which is now.
As the common man lines up outside stores in the clamor for sugar, the backdrop is that of multiple suicide bombings per week. Markets, mosques, hotels, schools and colleges all are no longer sacred grounds. Targets vary from the military to foreigners to innocent school children. The army is fighting a war in the North against the Taliban. And amidst it all, where are our esteemed leaders? They are sitting in the parliament debating an issue of extreme importance: the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).
(Though the breaking news from late last night is that El-Presidente sat with Maulana Diesel and Dr Farooq Sattar and decided to not present NRO to the parliament)
As the fiddlers play a mighty tune in the halls of power, life outside continues for the common man. Meanwhile in the comforts of his chambers, the hero of the downtrodden, the commander of the black coats, the champion of the masses strums a different tune on his guitar.
I don’t know much about the Chief Justice’s schooling but of one thing I am sure: he didn’t study economics or business studies. How in the name of all that is holy does the CJ expect any trader to sell at Rs 40, something that is being supplied from the source at Rs 57 or so? In all his wisdom, the Chief Justice managed to make sugar scarce in the market. So much that it is now a black market item and prices can range from Rs 80 to 120 depending on the area. Senor Chaudhry in his uneducated attempt to alleviate the suffering of his people, has left a bitter taste in the mouth for many.
In the meantime we were blessed last week by a visit of the emissary of his Royal Highness, King Obama the First. Ms Clinton swept in prior to our first handout under the Kerry-Lugar bill to make sure we were thankful for the bone our masters threw our way. The fact that it came with a new leash is of course a whole different story. And the honorable lady, ignoring the countless lives that Pakistan has laid down in the fight America started, smacked us in the face with a taunt.
“Al-Qaida has had safe haven in Pakistan since 2002,” Clinton told senior newspaper editors in the country’s cultural capital, Lahore.
Oh yeah. We love this game of hide and seek. Of course we know where Bin Laden is. We just love to see our people blown away (147 lost their lives in the fireworks show in Peshawar arranged for Lady Clinton’s visit). And the offensive in the North is just target practice for our military to keep them happy and well oiled. Why a shoe didn’t come flying towards Lady Clinton is a perplexing mystery.
As the orchestra continues to play this grand symphony, outside the grand halls of eliteness, another morning has dawned for the common man. A morning filled with the worries of spiraling inflation, the fear of sending kids to school, and a cup of tea with no sugar.