Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar has said that there was an army and government hand in the USA’s killing of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, who he said was traced by an abandoned SIM, in a raid by US Navy SEALs on bin Laden’s residence in Abbottabad. He said this in the course of a radio interview, broadcast on Wednesday. Ch Ahmed Mukhtar thus re-opened the old debate about whether or not the Pakistan government knew about the raid, which the USA has claimed went ahead without the Pakistani authorities knowing. However, US President Barack Obama, while announcing the killing, did say that Pakistani authorities helped, and Ch Ahmed Mukhtar has supported this. It appears that he is trying to claim the credit for the killing for the Pakistan government and its intelligence agencies, to stave off criticism of Pakistan after the 2 May raid. Mr Ahmed Mukhtar's statement in this light, especially given that there is a judicial commission yet to give a verdict on the OBL raid, will be seen as hasty. In his effort to deflect criticism from the intelligence agencies and the army, in the aftermath of the OBL raid, which overshadowed much of the international media's coverage of Pakistan last year, the defence minister's statement was perhaps premature and issued in a rush to coincide with President Obama's visit to Afghanistan.
That is a fudging of the question. There is no reason for Pakistan to change its decision to stop supplies, especially after the USA has not apologized for the original incident, the Salala massacre, in which Nato helicopters killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. The meeting, used to demonstrate military support for the Gilani government after the Prime Minister’s conviction for contempt by the Supreme Court, should have decided more firmly not just about the restoration of supplies to Nato forces, but about the whole question of ties with the USA.
The meeting was not a formal forum, but it was the right place to crystallize the realization that, whatever the interests of individual parties, the national interest demands that the country should pull out of the war that the USA has imposed on the world in the name of fighting terror. There has been too much cooperation, with the only reward being the propping up of India in the region as a counterweight to China, and Pakistan being forced to accept Indian hegemony.
There seems only one possible solution to this, if Pakistan wishes to retain its independence as a country. That would be a distancing from the current US alliance, which is by no means an equal relationship between two states.