Television networks worldwide were exploding with the news, people were messaging and calling each other to relate the shocking announcement made by America’s first black president, Obama, speculation was raging throughout the countries of the world, mingled emotions of uncertainty, worry, happiness or confusion were coursing through the masses populating this planet, and what was I doing? Oh yeah, snoring.
Not studying all year, and then realizing that your CIE exams are just a week away is enough to exhaust a person of all their reserves of energy, let me assure you of that. So consequently, after five minutes of studying accompanied by two hours of staring at the calendar and exam date sheet, I finally succumbed and clambered into bed for a rest.
I am slightly chastised to admit that I didn’t find out about the cataclysmic event until the afternoon of the next day, in fact. This is on account of the fact that I have surrendered my cell phone to my mother in a last-ditch attempt to focus on last minute studying and not be distracted by text messages from friends. Which is why I didn’t get those very text messages from friends that would have illuminated me with the groundbreaking events taking place; oh, and have I mentioned, taking place just a mere eighty kilometers from the city in which I live?!
I found out about it in fact when I randomly logged onto Facebook around five in the evening, in an attempt to dispel the boredom that studying economics always induces. I blinked as my eyes flicked over the news feed. It took me a whole two minutes to process what was being said (yes, economics does befuddle my brain that much.) And when my mind finally computed what was being said, it refused point-blank to accept it. REJECTION, REJECTION, it flashed. This whole thing must be a joke.
But a quick search through our ever-reliable Google, and a look at all the television news networks soon proved otherwise. This was not a mere rumour instigated on Facebook. This had actually happened.
Oh my God.
At first, I didn’t really understand the far-reaching implications on Osama bin Laden’s death. Oh, Osama’s dead, I thought. Yippee. That’s gotta be a good thing, right? I mean, now the whole war on terror thing can finally end, and Pakistan can be viewed as a cool country through the eyes of the rest of the international community.
But then, cracks started appearing. Cracks like those that mar the smooth frozen surface of the lake when summer insidiously creeps up. Except they are so faint, barely noticeable at first glance; so that the ice skater who steps onto the surface of the lake does so with complete carefree gaiety, not knowing that any second he is about be sucked down into frigid, icy water. That comparison can be applied to this situation only too well. Because at first, the news that Obama, America’s first coloured president has succeeded in doing what no other president could, having the US forces kill the most hunted man in the universe, the man who has been a global threat to civilians worldwide, the man responsible for promoting terrorism on a rapid scale, seemed, you know… swell.
But after the initial shock had been absorbed, other questions arose. Different opinions began to be voiced. Other theories were offered. And suddenly, I wasn’t sure anymore.
Obama, as he had announced, had killed Osama bin Laden on May 1, around 10 p.m. But had he? Had he really?
After all, the coming re-elections in the United States needed to be considered. The news that Osama bin Laden had finally been shot down by Obama’s government would cause support for him to rise tremendously, helping him to retain power once more. Could it be a ploy concocted by Obama to tighten his teetering grip on his position?
After all, the ongoing war in Afghanistan hadn’t done much for Obama’s popularity either. The war was being considered as a failure, and this had a significant negative impact on the US government’s popularity. The supposed killing of the most dangerous terrorist known to mankind would certainly make it appear to the whole world as though something productive did come out of the war, that the US government had actually been doing something worthwhile.
And in view of these considerations, what was Pakistan? A scapegoat, really. Heck, in this case, even Osama bin Laden could be considered as nothing more than a scapegoat.
Except, as is the case with most situations, things were not black and white. Shades of grey do exist, almost always do. And they weren’t absent in this scenario either. The guilt and blame could not be neatly fit into boxes or shelves or compartments. One country cannot be branded ‘guilty’, and the other ‘innocent’ and the matter declared closed. Because that is not how politics works. Even I, a person who openly admits that she is sorely lacking in political knowledge, admits that.
Because other questions too, arise. Such as what about Pakistan – my country’s – role in the matter? The government claimed that they had no knowledge or involvement in the operation being carried out. But if that was truly the case, how could the American forces fly from Afghanistan to Abbottabad, so near the federal capital of the nation, without being intercepted? That thought casts disturbing light on the state of security within my country itself. What if a country such as our arch rival India springs a surprise attack upon us? Why, if the government’s claim is to be believed and the condition of our armed forces is really that pathetic, then we are, quite simply put, doomed.
But do not distress. Because, I for one, do not believe it. If there is one thing I have supreme confidence in, it is in the strength, unity and power of our military forces. We have, and I state this with bold conviction, one of the best armies in the world. There is no way we couldn’t have taken down those American planes.
Except, then a new question presents itself: Why didn’t we? The only answer to that can be because our government must have instructed the army not to. But that could only have been done if the government had been aware of the actions being carried out by the US government. So then, what other answer can we accept, except the inevitable: our government has been lying to us.
Which is – and please excuse the profanity – fucking despicable.
Is the government of our country really that weak? That it lies to us – we, the people who elected it – in order to avoid backlash and repercussions from other, mightier countries of the world? Such a thought causes bile to rise in my throat.
Moreover, what about proof? There has been no concrete evidence offered, at least none concrete enough to dispel all suspicions to the contrary. The whole, quick, efficient ‘burial at sea’ thing is just plain weird. The photographs showcased of the dead body are not solid proof enough, for they could have been photographs of bin Laden during some other bombing. Since when are photographs sources of proper evidence, anyways?
So that leaves the ever elusive question: is Osama bin Laden really dead?
To that, I am sorry to say, I have no answer. I only have suspicions, but I have no physical proof to back them up with. Maybe Osama died years ago, and was already buried. Maybe he wasn’t, and is still alive, hiding wherever he was hiding before, lounging on his charpai and watching the telly and laughing at us. This question will probably remain unsolved, as so many questions usually do.
Other little tidbits need to be highlighted as well. Obama’s appointment of General Patraeus? Plain weird. Because, Obama is a Democrat, whereas Patraeus is a Republican. A pretty staunch one at that too, whose principles regarding war and terror are bound to be different. Why Obama would allow a clash of ideologies to take place within his own government, is something I cannot understand.
Pakistan’s reaction to the events unfolding hasn’t been all that encouraging either. The response from the government officials is unsatisfactory. It allows doubt to be stirred up in the minds of the people. The responses have been vague, and self-contradictory and not united, reflecting a poor perception of Pakistan to be highlighted in the international community.
So where does all this leave us? Why, with questions, and more questions that continue to haunt us, and are likely to do so for a long time.
Is Obama a hero to be hailed by masses all over, or simply a man desperate to clutch onto power?
Is Osama bin Laden already dead, or killed in this recent operation, or still hidden?
Is our government unaware, misinformed, weak or lying? (Yes, sadly, none of the options look all that awesome.)
And is the war on terror really over or only just escalating?
To all the concerns highlighted above, there is no definitive answer, but of one thing, we can be certain: Osama bin Laden’s death will have sound repercussions not only in Abbottabad and Islamabad, but all throughout Pakistan.