On how Pakistan could really not have known about Osama

Salman Rushdie’s take on the idea that Pakistan did not know about Osama’s presence:

Many of us didn’t believe in the image of bin Laden as a wandering Old Man of the Mountains, living on plants and insects in an inhospitable cave somewhere on the porous Pakistan-Afghan border. An extremely big man, 6-foot 4-inches tall in a country where the average male height is around 5-foot 8, wandering around unnoticed for ten years while half the satellites above the earth were looking for him? It didn’t make sense. Bin Laden was born filthy rich and died in a rich man’s house, which he had painstakingly built to the highest specifications. The U.S. administration confesses it was “shocked” by the elaborate nature of the compound.


This time the facts speak too loudly to be hushed up. Osama bin Laden, the world’s most wanted man, was found living at the end of a dirt road 800 yards from the Abbottabad military academy, Pakistan’s equivalent of West Point or Sandhurst, in a military cantonment where soldiers are on every street corner, just about 80 miles from the Pakistani capital Islamabad. This extremely large house had neither a telephone nor an Internet connection. And in spite of this we are supposed to believe that Pakistan didn’t know he was there, and that the Pakistani intelligence, and/or military, and/or civilian authorities did nothing to facilitate his presence in Abbottabad, while he ran al Qaeda, with couriers coming and going, for five years?

I agree, it just seems too flimsy an excuse that they didn’t know – given the circumstances. They could perhaps have not known if he was living in nondescript quarters in a downscale neighborhood of an unknown town, but this seems a bit much.

Unless… Pakistan intelligence is exactly this grossly malfunctioning, and they really didn’t figure it out. In which case, they will be inept at handling intelligence of similar or more serious nature. If this is so, Pakistan should be declared a state that is incapable of managing and protecting its nuclear technology, and be asked forced to dismantle its nuclear installations by the international community.

Which conclusion does Pakistan prefer?

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