Governments play blame game over bin Laden

Brant Ozanich
The Guardsman

The world’s most wanted man, Osama bin Laden, was killed by U.S. special forces on May 2, bringing a ten year manhunt to a startling close.

The implications aren’t just a slow decline in his brand unique, brutal jihadism, but also strained relations with the country that seems to be hiding him, Pakistan. There has already been signs of the relationship becoming more tense, and it is likely to only get worse.

The U.S. and Pakistan have somewhat of a symbiotic relationship, with the U.S. giving Pakistan more than $20 billion over the past 10 years and Pakistan aiding the U.S. in catching over 600 terrorists.

With the killing of bin Laden, a unilateral move by the U.S. aimed at bypassing Pakistan’s alleged hiding, both sides have started pointing fingers at one another–something that could severely strain the already tense relationship the two states have.

Pakistan wasn’t notified of the raid that killed bin Laden, which shows that the U.S. didn’t trust Pakistan enough to inform them beforehand, either because the information would leak to whoever was assisting bin Laden or the government would deny the right for U.S. military action.

Since the killing of bin Laden, Obama has publicly stated In an interview with 60 Minutes that bin Laden must have had “some sort” of support network inside Pakistan, but was reluctant to directly accuse the government’s involvement.

“We don’t know who or what that support network was. We don’t know whether there might have been some people inside of government, people outside of government, and that’s something that we have to investigate and, more importantly, the Pakistani government has to investigate,” Obama said.

After the allegations from parts of the Obama administration, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Gilani addressed Pakistani parliament, saying “allegations of complicity or incompetence are absurd.”

Relations with Pakistan, who has been a key ally in fighting the war on terror in Afghanistan after 9/11, are fragile and the U.S. is very compliant to meet the nation’s demands.

Now, however, the relations seem to be souring as public opinion in Pakistan turns against the U.S. and its unilateral operation to kill bin Laden while public opinion in the U.S. turns against Pakistan as allegations of it hiding bin Laden arise.

“It’s not just intuition, it’s actually experience that I speak from. The military actually put him up there and were keeping him for a future that might have been anticipated,” Jaweed Lodin, Afghanistan Deputy Foreign Minister said to Al Jazeera. “It has been shaken once again, to it’s roots, the trust element.”

While neither government seems to be making any drastic changes in their foreign policy with one another yet, it is worth watching these events unfold further. A further loss of trust between one another, as well as opposing public opinions between the two populations could greatly hamper Pakistani relations.

Additional reporting complied from Al Jazeera, 60 Minutes, Financial Times and The New York Times.


See the author’s analysis of the “double game” Pakistan and the U.S. play in the May 18th issue of The Guardsman.

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