February 26, 2020

Pakistani TV talk: Is Osama really dead?

It is a measure of the trust deficit that many people are questioning whether Osama bin Laden was indeed killed in Pakistan in an operation early Monday morning.
That night, Urdu television channel Express News ‘Kal Tak’ [Until Tomorrow] programme host Javed Chaudhry opened his show with some questions. And while his may not be the most highly rated show, it does provide some idea of the debate in media and street circles.
Mr Chaudhry opened the show by posing some questions. He gave an incomplete list of the seven times that the international media has declared that Osama bin Laden has been declared dead. The first people to do this was Fox News in Dec 2001.This was followed by The New York Times, daily Telegraph, the US president at the time and an Arab newspaper even gave the news of his funeral.
A Taliban leader was quoted as saying he had in fact, attended bin Laden’s funeral. Then in July 2002 a top FBI official gave the BBC an interview saying that bin Laden was deadl. By Oct 2002, Afghan president Hamid Karzai told CNN that this was true.  Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf said the same thing, adding that bin Laden had died of kidney failure. In Oct 2002 the Telegraph quoted Israeli intelligence saying the same thing.
News of Osama bin Laden dying continued to resurface, according to Javed Chaudhry, in the years 2005, 2006 and 2009. It last appeared in Dec 2010 in The Washington Times that went so far as to show bin Laden’s grave. All this information is not my own, it was presented by Javed Chaudhry in his introduction to his show.
Mr Chaudhry then went on to ask the following questions: If bin Laden has died now, in 2011, then who were the bin Ladens who died in 2001, 2002, 2005 etc. Who were the bin Ladens they buried earlier on?
Mr Chaudhry then raised the question everyone is asking. Why didn’t the Americans/Pakistanis hand over bin Laden’s body to his family in Saudi Arabia? Why were journalists not invited to view the body and why were DNA tests not conducted to prove it? He asked why the body was “thrown” into the sea [phenk dia gaya]. In Urdu this sounds offensive and disrespectful. His use of that phrase is telling. Someone else on television, I caught in between the madness in the newsroom, also said that burying at sea is not Islamic.
Then, Mr Chaudhry went on to pose more questions:
Is it that Osama bin Laden died earlier and the Obama administration decided to announce it now as a re-election ploy?
Is it that by saying that Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan, America wants to give the world the impression that Pakistan is a terrorist state?
Mr Chaudhry then went on to say, well, if we accept what the US president says, that Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbotabad then:
Where did the American helicopters come from? If they came from Jalalabad, it would have taken them 3.5 hours to reach Abbotabad. Why were they not stopped by the Pakistani authorities when they were in our airspace? If they were already in Pakistan, then is it true that the US army is in Pakistan – even though our government has denied this previously?
If Osama bin Laden can live in Abbotabad, asked Mr Chaudhry, then perhaps we can assume that Ayman al Zawahiri can live in Karachi or Lahore. If the US forces can sweep in and target Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad, then can they do the same for Ayman al Zawahiri in Karachi or Lahore?
If indeed bin Laden was living in a compound a stone’s throw from Pakistan’s Kakul academy (like say Quantico or Sandhurst), did the intelligence agencies not know this? Was this a massive failure on their part? What are they doing with all the money the Americans and Pakistani people are giving them?