A bit of an embarrassment for Pakistan that Osama bin Laden should finally be found, living within minutes of Pakistan’s equivalent of West Point. Although President Obama was too tactful to say it, this cannot but raise the question of whether bin Laden was enjoying the protection of the top ranks of the Pakistani army. Or to put it another way, the Pakistani top brass is either exceptionally dozy or exceptionally duplicitous. The Americans have long harboured fears that the ISI – Pakistan’s intelligence service – was playing a double game, although more with the Taliban than al-Qaeda. But the top levels of the army were felt to be reasonably straight. Was that a mistake?
Meanwhile, how long before the conspiracy theories start? The fact that the Americans got rid of the body so fast – and at sea – will feed the arguments of those who will want to believe that this was not really bin Laden.
But why should the Americans pretend to kill their enemy number one – rather than actually tracking him down? If you are a right-wing American conspiracy theorist, you might argue that it is because Obama wants to secure re-election. (After the controversy over Obama’s birth certificate, why not have one over Osama’s death certificate?)
The Pakistani conspiracy theory is more likely to be that the US is searching for an excuse to go to war with Pakistan and seize the country’s nuclear weapons – hence this made-up story about killing Osama.
Incredible? Not at all. I give it twenty four hours before those theories start circulating.