It is time for our country to face the very bitter truth: Pakistan has been humiliated by the killing of the world’s most wanted terrorist in a small garrison town a mere two hours from Islamabad.
We have failed spectacularly, and in so many ways.
Our highly-acclaimed intelligence agency, the ISI, pleads ignorance, saying it had no idea bin Laden was comfortably living in Abbottabad. President Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser has said it is “inconceivable” that bin Laden did not have a support system within Pakistan. For those who would dismiss this as Western plots to discredit Pakistan, our direct neighbor and friend, Afghanistan, is saying the same thing.
Speaking at a news conference Wednesday, Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Zahir Azimi said bin Laden’s hideout would have been known not only to a “strong” intelligence agency such as Pakistan’s ISI but even to a “very weak government with a weak intelligence service.” He said the ISI faces many questions that need answers.
Our army (which receives a quarter of the national budget!) failed to notice in their own neighborhood what the United States was able to track from a world away: the suspiciousness of a singular house in a well heeled town with no front-facing windows, no phone line or internet connection, and with 18-feet walls along its perimeter.
Our civil society has failed on a very human level. Lawyers, just as they celebrated the depraved Mumtaz Qadri now prove their gross lack of morality by offering funeral prayers for bin Laden, alternating between the usual “Death to America” chants by the rent-a-crowd.
Our conspiracy-oriented media is too busy proclaiming the US raid violated our sovereignty to even realize the Saudi terrorist plotting and financing terrorists from our soil for five years was exploiting our sovereignty. The same pundits who speak of “ghairat” until they are red in the face cannot seem to see there is no honor in praising a mass-murderer, a man whose followers have wreaked such devastation in our country for years.
One has to wonder, is there something wrong with the Pakistani mindset?
Where have we gone wrong as a nation to arrive at this disgraceful day of honoring terrorists, tolerating bloodshed?
Our inability to think things through rationally has always been our national flaw. When have we ever calmly analyzed our crises and had a beneficial conversation in our media leading to a resolution? Our failures in 1971 were swept under the rug; instead we vilified India and left the matter at that. We have never scrutinized our actions in Kargil, because to do so, the elite say, would be an abomination.
Enough is enough. We are at an enormously difficult time in our country’s history. To become a respected civil society, and to share a seat at a table of the world’s successful democracy, we need lucid, logical debates. That is the only way to stabilize and prosper. The maniacal yelling has to stop. The India, US, Israel bashing has to stop. The conspiracy theories have to stop. We have to realize our thinking has only harmed us, and we simply have to change. Our priorities, and our commitment to those priorities needs to be affirmed by all our people.
As Shahid Saeed writes in his impassioned post, “The oped writers, the TV anchors and the pundits are busy answering the questions that either the west has or the old savraynayeteee. They are missing the point. There is good that holds for us in this. Beat the line of military accountability and civilian led reform.”
Many questions will arise from the Osama bin Laden killing, and we will have to face the answers. Pakistan’s future very well depends on how successful our present introspection will be.