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Pakistan’s position vindicated

US intelligence officials always claimed that Mullah Omar, the former supreme leader of the Taliban, lived in Pakistan; but Dutch journalist Bette Dam refuted those claims in an investigative biography titled ‘Searching for An Enemy’ that he never lived in Pakistan. She interviewed many people in Afghanistan including Abdul Jabbar Omari, Mullah Omar’s bodyguard from the moment the Taliban leader went into hiding until his death in 2013, who told her that Mullah Omer spent the remainder of his life in a small village in the remote, mountainous province of Zabul. Omari had travelled to Pakistan after Mullah Omar’s death, but was arrested after his return and remains in the custody of Afghan intelligence agency NDS since 2017. The author has proved the US and everyone else wrong who claimed that Mullah Omer visited Pakistan and met with Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan.
In 2015, the NDS, Afghanistan’s intelligence agency and the Afghan Presidential Office had announced (based on so-called credible information) that he had died in a Karachi hospital. “We knew he was in Pakistan,” said the then CIA Director David Petraeus, adding he was really generally down in Balochistan and would go to Karachi and that’s where the hospital was, but we just didn’t have the ability to operate in Pakistan”. But, according to Bette Dam, none of this is true. After five years of research and interviews, and an exclusive interview with Mullah Omar’s former bodyguard, she found that he never left Afghanistan. As per interview with Mullah Omer’s bodyguard Abdul Jabbar Omari, he vanished in Kandahar in 2001 after handing over control of the Taliban until his death in 2013, and had verified his story through host of other sources.
“Searching for an Enemy”, by Dutch journalist Bette Dam, among other revelations stated: The Taliban chief lived as a virtual hermit, refusing visits from his family and filling notebooks with jottings in an imaginary language. Omar decided to move when the US started building Forward Operating Base Lagman in 2004, just a few hundred metres from his hideout. He later moved to a second building but soon afterwards the Pentagon constructed Forward Operating Base Wolverine – home to 1,000 US troops, and where American and British Special Forces were based. Thus he lived at walking distance from the base”. He dared not move again, Dam says, rarely even going outside and often hiding in tunnels when US planes flew over. Even when he learned about the death of Al-Qaeda supremo Osama Bin Laden Omar rarely commented on the outside world.
After killing Osama bin Laden in an operation by Navy Seals in Abbottabad, the US and many Western countries claimed that Pakistan knew about his presence; and blamed Pakistan and the ISI for ensconcing him near Military Academy in Abbottabad. So far, Newsweek and British newspapers have stated that Mullah Omer lived under the very nose of the American forces, and termed it a failure of American intelligence; of course, many more comments would be seen soon. The US had also been propagating that Pakistan provided safe haven to Haqqani Network, not realizing that when the Taliban controlled or had influence in around 50 per cent of Afghanistan from where they could launch attacks on the occupying forces, there was no reason for them to take the risk of moving to and fro Pakistan. As America and its allies had failed to rein in militants, they tried to make Pakistan a scapegoat for their failures.
America was facing somewhat similar situation in Vietnam, and it started blaming Laos and Cambodia for its failure in Vietnam. In 1969, US marines secretly invaded Laos, and in April 1970 invaded Cambodia, which radicalized the entire region. In 1973, peace treaty was signed between the US, South Vietnam and North Vietnam. American leadership remembers the fate America met in Vietnam despite the fact that American troops had peaked at 536000 in 1968. In case of Afghanistan, the long stay of the US and NATO forces was because of Pakistan’s support and allowing land route for transportation of supplies to US and NATO forces. Yet, the US Administration and their think tanks always had ill-intentions against Pakistan. In 2006 a small group of US military experts and intelligence officials, had convened in Washington for a classified war game, explored strategies for securing Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal if the country’s political institutions and military safeguards began to fall apart.
For quite some time, American government and media have been painting Pakistan in the most ignoble colours and its military in the most humiliating shades. What US Administration could not say it straight it says through its mouthpieces – the New York Times and the Washington Post. Baseless stories are published to mislead the world, and accusations are levelled against Pakistan and its defence forces to denigrate them in the public eye. However, it is not just their hubristic arrogance that sets the blood boiling; it is their imperialistic tone that hurts in soul and mind. They do not want Pakistan’s cooperation but total submission and compliance of their orders. But what else one can expect when nation’s elites have over the years been genuflecting before the American adventurists. In fact, it is only the military leadership that says no to any unreasonable orders or demands especially from 2008 onwards.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.