America’s trump card in the subcontinent

The Four-man “Abottabad Commission” to inquire into reasons why the US Special Forces could hunt down Osama bin Laden, swoop down all the way from Jalalabad on his safe-house just outside the gates of the Pakistan Military Academy, kill him, and spirit his body away for disposal without the Pakistan Army, intel services, and state and local police being any the wiser, submitted its report. What it has to say is unimportant because it was predictable. After all, with the Pakistan govt’s first reaction immediately after the raid having been that no agency of state and not the military had any hand in this operation, it would have been silly to expect this commission to actually hold anyone responsible, least of all the ISI. Though it was the DG, ISI, Lt Gen Shuja Pasha’s understanding with the Americans that US govt agencies could prosecute their drone war inside Pakistan — apparently, the paper-thin diplomatic instrument Washington used to send in its SF raiders into Pakistan, which included the Pakistani commitment to standing-down its radar units. How else to explain US helicopters even if with stealth rotary features, etc negotiating some 200 kms of Pakistani territory from the Afghan base to Abottabad and back — a mission that lasted over three hours, going entirely undetected by any Pakistani ground- and air-based sensors? Moreover, however stealthy, the helicopters still make an infernal amount of noise which nevertheless still didn’t alert anybody in the PMA compound and nearby Divisional HQrs?! If the Paki intent was to put up a fight — which of course was never intended — the land forces in and around Abottabad had enough time — nearly half an hour from the time the first SF troops landed in the bin Laden compound to one of the copters going down to raiding team egressing — to engage the US SF. The most important aspect of the Commission’s report, however, is elsewhere in Pasha’s reporting to the Commission about what he was told by a US intel official: “You are cheap…you can be bought for a visa.” Ouch! But, isn’t that the trump card the Americans always play in India as well — the VISA?

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
This entry was posted in Afghanistan, Asian geopolitics, civil-military relations, Indian Politics, Internal Security, Pakistan, Pakistan military, South Asia, Special Forces, United States, US., Western militaries. Bookmark the permalink.

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