Monday, May 02, 2011

India has nothing to gain from Osama's death, Pakistan will remain the favoured client state of the US

There is something glaringly incongruous about the United States-led war against terrorism after the iconic acts of destruction of September 11, 2001. When the Arab youth flew their planes into the Twin Towers at New York, crashing into the Pentagon in Washington and forcing a civilian flight to crash near Pennsylvania on that autumn day, American government had no doubts whatever that it was Osama bin Laden -led Al Qaeda which was behind it all. Nearly a decade later, there is still no clinching proof that it was Osama's kamaikaze who went to work.

Americans blamed and Osama unhesitatingly took credit for it, as he did for the bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and the bombing of USS Cole in Aden in 1999. Then American president Bill Clinton responsed to the attack on US embassies by firing rockets into Afghanistan which destroyed no targets. The suspsicion that it was an Al Qaaeda handiwork was strong. It was not secret at that time that Osama was in Afghanistan and enjoying the hospitality and protection of the Taliban regime.

Through 2000 the US was engaging Taliban, though Washington had not recognised the Mullah Omar regime. There was talk of oil pipelines and the involvement of American corporations.

Then 9/11 happened. President George W Bush declared his intent to 'smoke out” Osama, and where else would he go but to Afghanistan. But there were talks till the last minute. Pakistan's ISI negotiated with the Taliban government for the handing over of Osama to the Americans and how they could continue to remain in power. The Taliban held on to an antiquated tribal code of honour of not abandoning a 'guest'. They paid a price and the Americans defeated them overwhelmingly in a span of a fortnight in November, 2001 and the Taliban just disppeared into the fastnesses of their barren, mountainous countryside. And that was where Taliban's top brass, including Osama and Mullah Omar seemed to have gone off to. No one knew. The American special forces scoured the Tora Bora mountains and caves. They could not lay their hands on Osama and Omar.

The younger Bush soon got impatient with the Osama chase and changed direction and attacked Iraq in March 2003 on the false pretext that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass desruction. And in May of the same year, aboard USS Lincoln he claimed that the war was won, which turned out to be a premature claim.

The great beneficiary of the American war on global terrorism was Pakistan. It received money and arms from Washington on a very generous scale. It received billions of dollars of aid from Americans and they were happy to be back in the arms of the US. India thought that it had exposed the Pakistan doublegame on Islamic extremism but the Americans were not interested in the Indian lament and complaint.

Even today, despite the fact that an ailing Osama was staying in a mansion in Abbotabad, about 150 km from the capital, Islamabad, Pakistan is certain to be embarrassed but that will not affect their favoured client status with Washington. India's aspiration to cosy up to the Americans in the strategic sphere will remain a distant dream.

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