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“Whaddaya know?” says Pakistan

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Rick Horowitz
May 3, 2011

This was for us a very big surprise.


It may not seem so to some in America, even as you are pleased with the ultimate outcome, and with the bravery of your special American forces. How is it possible, you wonder, for Mr. Osama bin Laden to be discovered in his final moments within the nation of Pakistan after so many years of fruitless searching by all parties?


How is it possible, you whisper, that the Government of Pakistan was not aware of his situation long ago? You in America are filled with doubts, even suspicions.


Please allow us to explain.


Please recognize, first, that the Government of Pakistan is a valued partner of the Government of America in its long struggle against extremist elements. All that we can do to assist in this struggle, we have done, and we shall continue to do.


This does not mean, however, that our knowledge is absolute. There are secrets unknowable even to us.


We are a good and a trusting people, and our best and most trusting people rise often to leadership positions in government, particularly in the military services and the intelligence services. This is surely the fundamental reason that our previous efforts to locate this individual were unavailing.


That Mr. Osama bin Laden was not living in a cave in Afghanistan, or in a tent in the Sudan, or in a bunker in Yemen, or in a flat in Germany was a complete surprise to us. To think, instead, that he might actually be found inside the nation of Pakistan itself—this we could never have imagined.


To think, moreover, that Mr. Osama bin Laden would be living, not in the mountains of some borderland, but in Abbottabad, less than 40 miles from Islamabad—this was, without doubt, what you Americans call a “mind blower.” As was the discovery that his final place of residing was no more than a mile from one of our foremost military academies.


You could have tipped us to the ground with a feather! All this explains why there were no concerns raised in our minds when the so-called “compound” was first constructed some years ago, or even since that time, despite many unusual factors. To our way of thinking, if a man wishes to build on his property a house that is many times the size of any other house in this neighborhood, and then to surround this house with high walls topped with barbed wire, that is his right.


If he wishes, in addition, to have few windows of this house facing out of the “compound,” and those few windows darkened to withstand the prying eyes of strangers, that is his right as well.


If the owner of such a house, despite its value approaching one million dollars American, chooses to have no phone service and no Internet service, that is also his right. (Perhaps the high costs of construction left him no additional funds for a telephone or computer?) Likewise, if the occupants of such a house choose to burn their own trash instead of placing it outside the premises for collection, who are we to question? Or even to be curious?


Weigh all these choices as you see fit: Can one truly conclude that they are anything more than “quirky”? The answer is clear.


“Quirky” is not a crime in Pakistan—may it ever be so.


Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at rickhoro@execpc.com.

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