What Up, Pakistan?

Among the new details trickling out about the death of Osama bin Laden (a war dogs was there! perhaps with titanium teeth!) and the aftermath (an "Osama," anyone? two shots and a splash of water), there is one big question still looming. What did Pakistan know, and when did it know it? The Chinese media has been on this. As pointed out by the Indian newspaper The Telegraph: "The Chinese have the best sources in Pakistan, given the all-weather friendship between Islamabad and Beijing. Xinhua [the official Chinese news agency] says electricity was cut off to Abbottabad as the operation to kill Osama began. That shows complicity with the Americans not only within the Army General Headquarters in Rawalpindi but down the line to the local administration that controls the electricity switching stations. Xinhua says security forces cordoned off the entire area near Osama’s safe house before the Americans attacked it and no one was allowed to enter or leave the operational surroundings during the attack."

As the great Elizabeth Rubin writes, "Will the revelation that bin Laden and family were dwelling in a newly built Pakistani Army mansion not far from the capital finally change the nature of the strange dance between the US and Pakistan? One wonders how good and smart men and women are taken in by diplomatic friendships, how they allow themselves to believe lies they know to be lies, or worse, settle for the lie because it seems there’s no way out, no creative solution to change the trusted old forms of diplomacy or the definitions of enemy and ally."

Rubin goes on to tell this anecdote: "Another young Afghan Taliban I met in Peshawar was involved in the production and distribution of propaganda and recruiting DVDs—beheadings, inspirational music videos, and killings of American soldiers, all set to Pashtun war songs. But after spending hours and hours with him, I noticed his anti-infidel rhetoric beginning to subside, and when the subject of the ISI’s operatives came up, his whole demeanor changed. “Snakes,” he called them. Their first offense, he said, was trying to oust Mullah Omar and create a more obedient Taliban leader—like Jalaluddin Haqqani, an old jihadi we once financed to fight the Soviets but who has now set up shop in Waziristan under ISI protection. (Along with his son Sirajuddin, Haqqani stages the big-media-grabbing attacks in Afghanistan but seems to abide by the rules of his hosts—no attacks against Pakistan. He also runs a virtual kidnapping factory in Waziristan and the Pakistanis have done nothing to stop it.) Then he said: 'I told you that we burn schools because they’re teaching Christianity, but actually, most of the Taliban don’t like this burning of schools or destroying of roads and bridges, because the Taliban, too, could use them. Those acts were being done under ISI orders. They don’t want progress in Afghanistan'."

Salman Ahmed, the Pakistani rock star whose band Junoon has sold 30 million records, told AFP, "If there was any other country where this happened – the intelligence failure on Osama and the intelligence failure on the US operation – the first thing the president would do is ask for the resignation of the intelligence chief and ask many questions of the army chief,” he said. "Pakistan, for its own in-house accountability, needs to ask these questions of its leaders.” Ahmed, incidentally, has a history of asking Pakistani leaders questions that make them nervous. A 1990 song about accountability was actually banned by Pakistan.