Election fever is running high in the United States of America and the heat can be felt by the statements emanating from the offices of both the presidential candidates, President Donald Trump and his rival Joe Biden who is presumptively reckoned to be more popular. With Biden’s leads in national polls, all conventional political understanding says he should win. But, the scenario feels like a déjà vu of the previous election for pundits who remember former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s poll lead in the run-up to the 2016 election. The Democratic candidate Joe Biden doesn’t seem to have missed any opportunity to pick holes in Trump’s presidential tenure while Donald Trump has been raking up Biden’s party’s erstwhile President Barrack Obama’s flaws during his rule till 2016. Amidst attacks and counter attacks in the highly charged political ambience of America these days, Donald Trump has recently tweeted that the Abbottabad hunt down of Al Qaida supremo Osama bin Laden was stage managed and a fake operation by the US maritime forces that was orchestrated, according to him, by Democrats under the influence of then Obama’s Vice president Joe Biden in 2011. The move was aimed at Obama’s victory in the elections, he further tweeted.
It was on 1st May 2011 when the US mariners stormed Abbottabad in Pakistan in a locality close to the Pak Army cantonment and claimed to have killed Osama bin Laden. The authorities in Pakistan, both civil and military, went aghast at the incident for the country’s image of a partner in the war on terrorism was badly tarnished. More pressures were experienced by Pakistan to do more against terrorism as Pakistan was construed to be a safe haven of terrorism. Nothing was truly known about the operation to the world and also to the then Pakistan regime which ran short of options other than to accept the US state version that Osama’s dead body was thrown in the Arabic Sea instead of being buried after the operation. It has taken years to come out of what was not less than a nightmare for Pakistan. In point of fact, this event paved the way for the US and her allies facing guerrilla warfare in Afghanistan to launch the doctrine of “do more” tactics that mounted tremendous pressure on Pakistan’s fight against Taliban. It is widely believed today that Trump’s so-called revelation of the inside story of Abbottabad operation cannot be easily brushed under the carpet. Albeit his version of the reality of 1st May 2011 is laden with political motivation in the face of elections that are to be held only two weeks from now, it must have brought some respite in Islamabad. Although not commenting on it officially, Pakistan can use Trump’s allegation to buttress its claims of being a responsible state. The ex-premier of Pakistan, the late Benazir Bhutto, had, in fact, earlier said in a press statement that Osama’s death was confirmed in the cluster bombing of Tora Bora hills in 2006 and that he was buried in Afghanistan along with his 20-year-old militant son.
The midnight execution of the US military operation in Abbottabad along with the claims of Osama’s dead body having been thrown in the sea, and the sheer lack of documentary evidence of Osama’s dead body, was held suspect in many diplomatic and media circles. Some sane voices from the investigative media in US, like Robert Fisk, had questioned the claims of Osama having been killed in Abbottabad. Although Trump’s tweet on the Abbottabad operation did not receive media hype in the world, for many believe that he is a politician known for making blatantly false statements, it may serve as a clean chit to Islamabad. However, it will serve no significant purpose in helping Islamabad come out of the FATF grey list. The killing of Osama is for all practical purposes a closed chapter in the world now. It will also do nothing to make Islamabad change course as it has entered the Chinese block and left the American orbit.
—The writer is Professor at SKUAST-K. [email protected]