Statements by U.S. politicians, with President Obama leading the way, have confirmed the theory that Osama bin Laden’s execution was the result of an exclusively American operation. If that was the case, it would mean a clear violation of Pakistan’s territorial sovereignty. Why, then, didn’t the Islamabad government protest? Why silently accept finding itself alongside the U.S., following Osama’s death, at the top of the list for possible retaliations by Islamic terrorists?
The answer lies in the lengthy discussions (over four hours long) that were held a month ago in Washington between General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, Director-General of the famous, notorious ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, Pakistan’s secret service), Leon Panetta (Director of the CIA) and Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. The meeting ended a long period of tension between two allies who, incredibly, were practically behaving like enemies.
It’s enough to remember a few facts. In early December 2010, a Pakistani by the name of Karim Khan holds a press conference and reveals that Jonathan Banks isn’t a businessman but the head of the CIA station in Islamabad, one of the largest CIA stations outside the U.S. Two weeks later, Banks is repatriated. Karim Khan accuses Banks of having caused the death of his brother and son in a drone strike in 2009. But how could a common Pakistani know one of American intelligence’s best kept secrets? In Washington they suspect a maneuver by the ISI and the circles that are most possessive of Pakistan’s atomic power.
Two months later, Raymond Davis, the man who took Banks’s place, is arrested in Lahore after killing two people who, he claims, were trying to mug him. But what was Davis doing at night in a disreputable neighborhood, armed, in a rental car, with a makeup kit, a longwave radio and a camera full of “sensitive” pictures? Davis remains in prison for 47 days and is interrogated by specialists from the ISI for 14 days, despite American protests. When he’s released, he pays 2.3 million dollars to relatives of the deceased, hops on a plane and flies home. Pakistan goes on the offensive. It demands that the U.S. stop the drone strikes (over 100 in the first three months of 2011) and downsize the CIA staff in the country. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Chief of Army Staff, wants 335 Americans to leave, amounting to around one third of the CIA staff. In any case, out with all the contractors.
At this point comes Washington’s summons to the head of the ISI, General Ahmad Shuja Pasha. From that moment on, everything is put in motion: Leon Panetta is nominated Secretary of Defense; General David Petraeus is chosen as CIA Director; Osama is killed. Perhaps the White House adds something to the billion dollars it gives Pakistan every year for security. Perhaps Islamabad has something to say about Osama’s eluding the American search parties for ten years. But there is an agreement. In Afghanistan we’ll see what Osama’s death in Pakistan actually means.