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Geronimo EKIA: They got him!

May 04, 2011

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"Geronimo EKIA" – the words that caused jubilation in America on May 1, 2011, left most Pakistanis shocked and confused. US President Barak Obama pronounced Osama bin Laden dead in a brief speech he made to the American people.

Geronimo – the code name given to bin Laden after the Apache warrior who fought with México and America for many decades in Apache Wars and was captured with great difficulty in 19th century. EKIA is the contraction for Enemy Killed In Action. And bin Laden was the enemy number one of America as was defined in the objectives of war on terror.

The 'action' referred to in EKIA happened on Pakistani ground in Abottabad, an hour and a half's drive from the capital Islamabad. After around 48 hours of the operation, there's still a conspicuous mum from authorities in Pakistan except a shadily phrased statement from the Foreign Office. However, the media went bonkers as the news broke and remains in that condition ever since.

There seems to be a deliberate attempt from Pakistan's intelligentsia to direct the flow of questions to a direction that saves the military establishment and the intelligence machinery of the country, of answering more important and key questions.

Capturing and killing Osama on Pakistan's land is not as simple for Pakistan as it might seem to a few. If it is sovereignty of this country that is bothering small time politicians with no popular representation, they must ask themselves where the sovereignty comes from.

Watching countless TV talk shows in private channels, one feels a little more than nauseated. Almost all of them, on May 2, seemed to be completely lopsided in terms of having a panel from on a particular point of view.

The anchors seemed to be political leaders who would humiliate the politicians for this 'insult' USA has inflicted on Pakistan. Oddly, all the channels reached out to the 'politicians' who have no or little electoral bank and absolutely no parliamentary presence.

The overwhelming narrative that engulfed media, remained focus on ghairat (honour) and the way USA has violated Pakistan's sovereignty in all its imperial arrogance.

Little did anyone on these pulpits tried to recall that bin Laden was anything but a law-abiding citizen of Pakistan. The biggest question regarding Pakistan's sovereignty comes from Osama's presence in Pakistan. How was he, along with a dozen children and two wives, given entry to Pakistan? Did he fake a passport? Or was he given an entry without the documents? Since there's some evidence of him being here since more than five years now, one is justified to ask the secret agencies responsible for scrutinising visa applications, how this 'irregular' visa was granted to OBL and family? Please note that our ghairatmand media still accuses Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's ambassador to USA, for issuing 'irregular' visas without the approval of intelligence agencies.

A pearl of wisdom that came from Imran Khan and shared by Marvi Memon – MNA from the coalition partner PML-Q – yesterday was the implications of letting bin Laden killed by America were very serious and that Pakistanis would be the victim of more terrorism whether in Pakistan or in the Middle East. In the same breath both of them accused the government of being completely clueless about the operation about which USA didn't let them know, thus violated Pakistan's sovereignty.

What they fail to answer is the mother of all questions. How come Pakistan's military – fighting terrorists in South Wazirastan – and intelligence agencies missed this prime target for so many years? An ordinary Pakistani cannot buy, sell or rent a piece of land or a one-room quarter even, without presenting his identification. Who owned and built the compound in Abottabad?

"This was a security breach no doubt," were the words of a veteran columnist from Pakistan while talking to NDTV, an Indian TV channel. Well, it’s quite generous on those responsible for Pakistan's security, but the question remains, if such an important target could hide in plain, naked-eye sight of Pakistan Army, can this army be trusted for the securing Pakistan’s borders? It seems Pakistan's security and intelligence agencies have been too busy in settling scores with renegade journalists, assaulting people’s homes for anticipated information and tapping politicians' communication to keep an eye on their own breeding center – the academy where they are producing their officers to be.

The most disturbed souls in the wake of bin Laden's killing in Pakistan are the fiery anchors and politicians. My request would be to kindly use the brains for the sake of this fateful country and its people. Are they saying that we should have kept on supporting Osama in hiding? Hiding, in this case, would have meant an unchallenged lease of life to the terror tsar with resultant strength and sense of supremacy to all his ground forces throughout the world who have been on a killing spree for last decade.

If four helicopters could enter the country's boundaries anytime without any check, and complete their operation in 40 long minutes without any interference from Pakistani forces, how are we going to trust this hugely financed army? Where is the justification of 18 per cent raise in defense budget even this year? Why is our highly moral media not asking these questions internally rather than getting on with 'imperial arrogance'? Confusing people in selfish pursuit of your banal opportunism would only drive the country towards further depth of disgrace, if there’s still more down there.

Marvi Sirmed is a right's activist and political commentator based in Islamabad.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.