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بدھ، 20 اکتوبر، 2010

Is Osama hiding in Pakistan?

US TV news channel CNN has repeated its allegation that Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden is living comfortably in a house in northwest Pakistan close to his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri. Quoting a NATO official, CNN claimed that the Saudi-born militant wanted for the September 11 attacks on the United States nine years ago is being protected by local people and “some members of the Pakistani intelligence services.” The television network extended its “disclosure” that the al-Qaeda number two, the Egyptian-born Zawahiri, was living close to him. The unnamed NATO official from Kabul was quoted by CNN that the al-Qaeda chief and his deputy are not residing in a cave but are freely moving around an area ranging from the mountains of Chitral near the Chinese border to the Kurram valley near Afghanistan’s Tora Bora. At various instances, western intelligence agencies, have conjectured that Pakistan’s tribal belt of Kurram and six other districts spanning 27,220 square kilometres are bin Laden’s hiding place. According to CNN, the same NATO official also confirmed the US assessment that Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban, has moved between the cities of Quetta and Karachi in Pakistan over the last several months.” Interior Minister Rehman Malik has denied the presence of top leadership of Al-Qaeda in Pakistan, stating that he categorically denies the presence of Osama bin Laden, his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri and even Mullah Omar in any part of Pakistan. He said the government had already assured its full cooperation to share information with the world community in this regard. Pakistan’s foreign ministry has rightly refuted the speculation to be “baseless and “put out to malign Pakistan”. Osama bin Laden, who has a 25-million-dollar US bounty on his head and most probably perished in 2002 due to kidney failure, is in all probability, being kept alive by US agencies to continue pressure on Pakistan and justify their war against terror. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, predicted this month that bin Laden and Zawahiri would eventually be hunted down.
Pakistan has bent backwards to support the war to terror and sacrificed tremendously. Pakistan’s envoy to Washington, Hussain Haqqani, talking to a US TV channel has declared that the US has managed to apprehend Taliban/Al-Qaeda personnel due to Pakistan’s support. On the other hand, US special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrook’s statement that Taliban who renounced al Qaeda would be welcomed back in Afghan politics is essentially a brainchild of Pakistan, deserves mention and appreciation. Credit must be given where it is due. The Daily Mail opines that speculative and tentative statements regarding the presence of Osama or Mullah Omar in Pakistan will only hinder the war against terror. If the US has credible intelligence information regarding the location of either, it must share the same with Pakistan so that action can be taken. Attempting to pressurize Pakistan so that its armed forces can launch operations against the miscreants in North Waziristan would prove counterproductive. Pakistan Army needs a breathing space to consolidate its gains from the successful operations in Swat/South Waziristan before opening a new front in North Waziristan. The worst-ever floods-2010 has not washed away the war on terror as the nation, the government, and the army is wholly committed in relief & rehabilitation work in the flood affected areas. Until the Armed Forces conclude their commitment to the flood relief operations, they cannot be deployed elsewhere. It must be understood by the US that its own frustrating slow response in opening up of Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) in tribal areas that will open up trading and employment opportunities is delaying a response, which could go a long way in making the situation conducive to winning hearts and minds of people. The war against terror is a concerted affair, in which the fog of war must not be allowed to cloud judgment through speculative conjectures and rumourmongering.

Osama has become a scapegoat of the foreign elements to implicate Islamabad. But Bin Laden cannot take shelter in Pakistan where CIA-operated drone strikes have killed many top commanders of the Taliban, especially Naik Muhammad and Baitullah Mehsood. Moreover, since 9/11, Pakistan's security agencies also captured many masterminds of Al-Qaeda, namely Khalid Sheikh, Abu Faraj and a computer engineer Naeem Noor Khan including other militants. Owing to these ground realities, Taliban leaders had already fled to Afghanistan where they have control over more than 70 percent of the territory. Especially, during the successful Swat-Malakand military operations, the Taliban commander, Maulana Fazalullah escaped to Afghanistan who was recently seen in a video-tape, telecasted by some TV channels.
Question arises as to how Osama could be hiding in Pakistan, while Al Qaeda or Taliban commanders prefer to live in Afghanistan where they are more safe, and where they have been fighting against the US-led NATO forces, and where level of militancy has increased in 2009 as admitted by western high officials and military commanders.
If Osama is alive, and is in Afghanistan, he cannot hide himself from Indian secretagency, RAW which has expanded its clandestine networks everywhere in connivance with the Indian army and additional consulates which are also working covertly. India has spent millions of dollars in Afghanistan to strengthen its grip. New Delhi which wants to get strategic depth against Pakistan, and has also been acting upon anti-China policy-is determined to keep its security agencies there permanently under the cover of the US-led allied forces. Under the pretext of Talibinisation of Afghanistan and Pakistan, India has already been fulfilling its secret stragic goals by supporting insurgency in Pakistan's Frontier Province and Balochistan. RAW has been sending militants along with arms to Pakistan so as to attack the security personnel including western nationals. During the Swat-Malakand and South Waziristan operations, ISPR spokesman, Maj-General Athar Abbas has shown to the media, huge cache of arms and ammuniton, entering Pakistan from Afghanistan. Recently, Pakistan's prime minister and foreign minister have disclosed that India is backing the militancy in our country.

India is determined to obtain its inter-related aims to dominate other regional countries. Particularly, it considers Pakistan an obstacle in its way. So New Delhi might have decided to use Bin Laden a scapegoat to fulfill its all designs. If Osama is alive, he could definitely be under the custody of Indian RAW because New Delhi knows that western countries can never suspect it regarding his whereabouts.

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