Osama

As we woke up on Monday, feeling a little depressed that the next day we would have to get back to work and the ‘royal gift’ of long weekend was almost over, we saw the news that we thought we’d never hear. Osama bin Laden is dead. Once the most dangerous man on Earth, now a frail, ailing, middle-aged man was killed by a small team of US Navy SEALS, who descended on the roof of his residence – unbeknownst of Pakistani Military – killed him, took his body away onboard their naval ship stationed at Arabian Sea and ‘buried him at sea’.

Pakistani Army didn’t know his whereabouts. ISI, which perhaps knows about every terrorist cell in Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi, and even Coimbatore, did not know Osama was ‘hiding’ 800 metres away from a military academy near their capital. Rushdie wrote that such ‘flimflam’ excuses won’t wash. They are not washing. It’s a bit difficult to believe Pakistan really cared about it. They cared neither about the countries whom they call ‘allies’ from whom they milked billions of dollars nor about the terrorists whom they tried to protect. Least of all about their own sovereignty, because until Imran Khan made a hue and cry about it, the political and military leadership didn’t bother about somebody violating their national boundaries. What it means to Pakistani people’s self-esteem can’t be measured. We can only voice our sympathies.

Osama bin Laden ceased to be the world’s most dangerous man long ago but his value as the symbol of Islamic terror cannot be overestimated. As Michael Burleigh noted, he is to Islamic terror what Che Guevara was to pop-leftism. (He actually used the word ‘juvenile-left’ but since I also own a Che t-shirt, I’m diluting it!) Regardless of whether his body is available or whether there’s a shrine, the world cannot prevent him becoming a poster-boy. Capturing him alive and conducting an international trial would have actually prevented that but apparently U.S. didn’t have time or inclination for all that. Barack Obama decided to violate another nation’s (however rogue they are) sovereignty, killed two women (however complicit they are) and shot an unarmed middle-aged man (however dangerous, elusive he was). And also decided to throw the body bag in the sea (however weighted the bag was). And then he announced ‘Justice has been done’!

So much for the Nobel Peace Prize.

More than Osama, more than Obama, more than anything else in this drama, two things were quite glaring in my focus.

First was the literal violation of Pakistan’s modesty. Having made to stand naked in front of the entire world, Pakistan had to pick either one of the embarrassments, complicit or incompetence. They picked incompetence, which is actually ‘not washing’, as Rushdie pointed out. Each member of the establishment kept saying different things, effectively contradicting and thus exposing themselves. What does it say about Pakistani society, what future does the political leadership and the military establishment have are questions that are hanging in the air and will get answers in the near future. They will become even more pronounced if the funds tap runs dry.

Second was the way the U.S. decided to celebrate it. Some used Wizard of the Oz reference, some called it the first miracle of (St.) John Paul, which means they picked out from their culture and religion. They congregated in public places and wrote obscene words on placards and printed obscene words on paper. Pretty much like seeing a public square in a fundamentalist Islamic nation.

And now I’m only waiting for Arundhati Roy to write a 20-page piece about the shady circumstance in which Osama was killed.

p.s. I particularly liked the column by Robert Fisk which guided my thought process for this blog. Read here.