Facing up to the truth is clearly not our strength. While television surveys suggest many people in the country refuse to believe Osama is dead, keeping alive our tradition of believing in bizarre conspiracies as opposed to the truth, even our prime minister seems eager to avoid accepting what has actually happened and instead appears to be trying to shrug off embarrassment saying that, as intelligence is shared with other agencies around the world, they too are to blame for the failure to discover Osama’s presence in Pakistan. Intelligence-sharing may be a reality, but the prime responsibility for events on our soil lies with us. There is no getting away from this fact. We would do ourselves less damage by telling the truth, openly confessing failure, and addressing the issue of avoiding similar disasters in the future by conducting a detailed review of what went wrong. The enquiry into the intelligence failure announced after a crucial corps commanders meeting must not remain just talk and must become a meaningful reality. The findings of such an enquiry need to be made public, given that the incident in Abbottabad is the talk of the world.
The need to avoid a future debacle along the same lines is all the more urgent now that the White House has made it quite clear that it will not hesitate to carry out another operation of a similar nature in the country. It has also said that there will be no apology for what took place. It is apparent that in a triumphant Washington distrust for Pakistan runs deeper than ever. Feeble excuses and attempts to deflect blame will not help anyone, least of all us. Attempted cover-ups will lead us nowhere. This is all the more true given that we cannot rule out the possibility of further US action on our soil. A report in this newspaper suggests the next targets may be Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaeda’s second most important leader after Bin Laden, or former Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar. Meanwhile Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani has said that more such raids will not be tolerated and will lead to a review of cooperation with the United States. There is no doubt that further American action, possibly in North Waziristan or Quetta, would tear the notion of our sovereignty into even smaller pieces. And that’s why those at the helm of affairs should act wisely. The flurry of confused statements coming from our leaders is helping no one, and is only making matters worse for us. Though the military commanders have stated that no repeat of Abbottabad will be tolerated, we need a far clearer line of thinking, and also action that proves we are committed to combating militancy, thus dispelling growing doubts that have been expressed in this regard in various capitals of the world. Pressure on Pakistan will continue to grow unless we demonstrate the ability and the will to take on militants, rather than merely going on about how we have suffered at their hands.