“We are failing state if we not a failded one” ISI chief
The revelation that a Pakistani government dossier regarding Osama bin Laden had leaked to the media immediately brought to mind salacious and popularly held suspicions about the country’s complicity in harbouring the infamous terrorist financier. Bin Laden, who after 9/11 was believed to be on the run in the remote tribal wilderness, eventually was found to be residing, shockingly, in a comfortable home within a quiet Pakistani city with significant military links.
That this city was also home to the Pakistani military’s equivalent of West Point only added to the sense that this was a blatant cover-up and that the Pakistani government was consciously hiding and protecting America’s most wanted terrorist. Any leaked internal Pakistani documents relating to this affair could then be little else but a documentation of how such a world-beating scheme was pulled off.
However, the dossier which did leak suggests the opposite as true. While the report’s authors do not explicitly rule out state collusion, the picture they paint is one which more strongly reflects bureaucratic chaos and mismanagement than of a finely-tuned, sinister plot. The revelations contained therein may dispel suspicions of any broad, coordinated Pakistani government conspiracy to aid Bin Laden, but they do indict the state in an arguably worse way.
There are two competing theses as to how Osama bin Laden may have been able to live for years under the noses of the Pakistani establishment. One posits the necessary collusion of the Pakistani government, while the other assumes structural incompetence led to organisational obliviousness to Bin Laden’s presence on Pakistani soil. Collusion would require an efficiently organised and well-functioning Pakistani state able to keep such an incredible secret, while obliviousness would entail a high-degree of bureaucratic ineptitude and confusion within the state machinery. Even a cursory reading of contemporary Pakistani shows that the latter scenario is the situation which exists at most levels of the country today.