Pakistan-bashing is favorite pastime, not in Pakistan alone but all over the world. Of late, it has become fashionable to attack Pakistan’s soft underbelly, its security establishment which has a tradition of remaining quiet at most of the times and not bothering much about the smear campaign. Readers would recall that before the OBL operation, Pakistan’s security apparatus came under heavy bombardment, not from New Delhi or Washington DC but from Raiwind through its loud-mouthed leader of opposition. He and his political master remained unaware of the fact that thinking Pakistanis are proud of their soldiers and respect them more than the scheming politicians of all hues, corrupt to the core. And the tabloid-like electronic media, both pro-jehadi and liberal and so greedy for their rating, was no less lethal in this smear campaign.
But the silent majority of Pakistanis still believe that if their security establishment is being maligned by the hostile powers, it proved one thing very clearly; this establishment is a force to reckon with and is doing its job honestly. The lies doctored to malign Pakistani security establishment are being exposed as the dust is settling down. The National Interest, in an article exposed many such lies. It says that the revelation that Osama bin Laden had ensconced himself in a Spartan but capacious compound in the garrison town of Abbottabad, a few kilometers from Pakistan’s military academy, continues to wrack the minds of U.S. policy makers and American citizens alike. Abbottabad, contrary to the perception promoted by the media, is a picturesque hill city some 4,120 feet above sea level and a three-hour drive from Islamabad. Clearly, reports that the town is a “suburb of Islamabad” are patently and absurdly false. There are numerous fundamental problems with the way in which OBL operation have been covered in the international media and described by U.S. officials. The repercussions of these characterizations are dangerous and profound.
According to the report, all accounts and statements attesting to Pakistan’s official facilitation of bin Laden’s tenure are irresponsibly speculative. The United States had been monitoring the compound since August 2010 and had even erected a CIA house to do so. If there is credible evidence of such facilitation, the U.S. government should say so. In the absence of evidence, conjecture is reckless. The author of the report interviewed journalists in Islamabad working on their stories—several of them outright confessed that they had nothing of substance and were running with sheer conjecture. Some relied upon dubious and tentative accounts from children playing near the house, milkmen and paperboys as well as night watchmen. As one journalist conceded, “the standards go down” in situations like this. Unfortunately, these sloppy articles will form the contemporary and historical understanding of this momentous event. But let’s be clear: this is not reportage; rather, it is the substance of tabloid.
What is required right now is cool-headed investigation into what happened, how it happened and with what—if any—official, government of Pakistan facilitation. Baseless speculation will only fuel the inclinations in the U.S. government to cut off Pakistan, and this would be a catastrophic strategic blunder. Washington needs Islamabad’s help. Pakistan needs the United States just as much—and China isn’t coming to the rescue anytime soon. The irresponsible utterances of American lawmakers were as much unhelpful as those of their Pakistani counterparts. While the American congressmen were furious at the American funds going down the drain, the mindless Pakistani “leaders” were jubilant on the prospect of “grilling” the army they have so far feared. In these insane rhetoric, the real focus was lost. Both sets of politicians need to realize that maligning Pakistani security forces will not help any of the two countries and will only add fuel to the fire. As for media, they are slaves to their own compulsions; rating for them is more important than truth. And the truth seems to be the only casualty in the events following OBL operation.