Pakistan's duplicitous president Asif Ali Zardari — also know as "Mr. Ten Percent" — is upset at the mere suggestion that Osama bin Laden was living a four-minute drive from "Pakistan's version of West Point" with anyone in his administration or security apparatus knowing anything about it. How dare anyone even suggest such an outlandish claim. In fact, Zardari is so confident in where he stands that he decided to write an op-ed for The Washington Post today to clear things up.
Some in the U.S. press have suggested that Pakistan lacked vitality in its pursuit of terrorism, or worse yet that we were disingenuous and actually protected the terrorists we claimed to be pursuing. Such baseless speculation may make exciting cable news, but it doesn't reflect fact.
Sure thing. Zardari also calls Pakistan "perhaps the world's greatest victim of terrorism," which is true. Tens of thousands of innocent Pakistanis have died violent deaths at the hands of horrible people. But that doesn't mean he's got Pakistan's, or anyone else's, best interests in mind when making decisions or deciding policy. He is sometimes called "Mr. Ten Percent" for a reason.
Pakistani authorities weren't even notified of the raid on bin Laden's compound until after his body was outside the country's airspace, which really needs little explanation. Yesterday in The New Yorker, Dexter Filkins wrote about the fact that many top-level Al Qaeda operatives have been caught inside Pakistan:
There is no evidence that any of the above men were sheltered by Pakistani officials. Indeed, since 2001, the double-game has usually worked like this: While Pakistani officials may covertly support the Taliban, they have bought cover for themselves by coöperating with the United States against Al Qaeda.
But the fact that Osama was hiding in an urban area raises many obvious questions, like who was taking care of him, and how. Abbottabad is only thirty miles from the Pakistani capital, and it is home to a Pakistani military base, a military academy, and many retired Pakistani officers. Conspiracy theories abound in Pakistan; since 9/11, the most common has been that Bin Laden was being sheltered by the I.S.I.
Last year, Zardari claimed control over Pakistan's rogue intelligence agency, the ISI, which is long known to support elements of the Taliban and other militant groups operating against India and inside Pakistan and Afghanistan. So if Zardari really does hold sway over the ISI, and he's hell bent on defeating all of the various Taliban factions operating in Pakistan, then why hasn't he actually done anything about it? Who knows.
When a large portion of Pakistan was flooded last year, Zardari hung out in London cracking stupid jokes while pretending that his people weren't really suffering. His constituents there love him so much that someone even threw a shoe at him. Near the end of his screed, Zardari says of Pakistan, "Our people, our government, our military, our intelligence agencies are very much united." It probably wouldn't be too hard to find Pakistanis who would disagree.
[Image via Getty]