As the impact of the death of feared terror mastermind Osama Bin Laden is slowly sinking in across the world, Pakistan is bracing for unwelcome repercussions. On the one hand, the country could lose allies now that there is near-certain evidence that Islamabad was making a mockery of the hunt for Bin Laden. On the other, there would certainly be massive, violent revenge attacks from various terror outfits active in the country.
Terror outfits affiliated to Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda had already warned that a nuclear hailstorm was in store if their leader was captured. Now that Bin Laden is killed, a new Islamist terror surge is waiting in the wings around the world, more so in western capitals and Pakistan.
Asia Times reported on Wednesday that terror cells in North Waziristan tribal area have already held several meetings in the wake of Osama killing. The paper's contacts have confirmed that the militants deliberated on strategies for inflicting fierce revenge against Pakistan.
Pakistani President, who tops the Taliban hit list, has already tried to wash hands off Bin Laden's blood, anticipating tough retaliation from terror cells his country is replete with.
In an interview to the Washington Post, President Asif Ali Zardari said his government had no idea the Al-Qaeda mastermind was hiding in his country. He was not anywhere we had anticipated he would be but now he is gone, Zardari said.
No amount of denial of Bin Laden's whereabouts will, however, absolve Pakistan of the charge that the government was running with the hare and running with the hounds -- in this case, hunting with the police and hiding the criminal.
Meanwhile, the Pakistani prime minister offered a lame excuse for not being in the know of Laden's whereabouts. Yusuf Raza Gilani said in Paris that there was an intelligence failure. There is an intelligence failure of the whole world, not just Pakistan alone ... Certainly we have intelligence sharing with the rest of the world, including the United States, so if somebody points out that there are ... lapses from the Pakistan side, that means there are lapses from the whole world, he said.
This sloppy explanation fails to address valid questions. Pakistan is a heavily policed state and its intelligence wing, Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) is notorious for its handle on government, military and civilian life. Secondly, Gilani blames the rest of the world for not finding out what was taking place right next to a premier military academy deep inside his own country!
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, who has feuded with Pakistan several times over Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda safe havens, has already trained guns on Zardari and Pakistan, saying that the war against terror should now be waged in Pakistan.
Not only Pakistan, with its strong intelligence service, but even a very weak government with a weak intelligence service would have known who was living in that house in such a location, Afghanistan Defence Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said.
Several other world leaders have aired doubts about Pakistani position on Bin Laden. “I find it a little difficult to imagine that the presence of someone like bin Laden in a big compound in a relatively small town could go completely unnoticed,” French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said Pakistan had questions to answer for letting Bin Laden hide in the country for too long.
India said the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan proved that the country had become a safe haven for terrorists. Indian foreign minister S.M. Krishna said the effort should now be to eliminate the safe havens and sanctuaries of the terrorists. This is obviously a call to the United States to look at Pakistan as a terror-sponsor.