Is the Pakistani state, in the latest international embarrassment of Osama bin Laden's death, deliberately derelict, merely incompetent, or some unique and tragic combination of both?
A boy collects debris, remains of a firefight, as journalists surround the compound where al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad Pakistan. Ahmad Masood/Reuters.
ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistan isn't exactly a fragile country. It is often spoken of as a product of the 1947 end of British colonial rule in South Asia, and a parallel state to the larger and more organic India. In truth, Pakistan really was born in 1971, after the creation of Bangladesh and the humiliating military defeat it suffered while simultaneously trying to resist both the popular insurgency agitating for a free Bangladesh and a powerful Indian military intervention in what was then West Pakistan. Pakistan is a country with a 40 year history. Of these 40 years, it has been ruled by its military for a full 20, with General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, probably Ronald Regan's favorite brown man, clocking in 11 years, and General Pervez Musharraf, who incidentally happened to be George W. Bush's man-crush in South Asia, clocking in nine. Enduring two decade-long dictatorships, multiple wars, and a traumatic partition, Pakistan has taken a few licks it its time. But perhaps none have been so utterly embarrassing and damning as the discovery of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, hiding not in the mysterious and rugged mountains of its Berm
uda Triangle-like tribal areas, but in the West Point-like, relatively prosperous and serene city of Abbottabad, a short distance from the Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul. The Pakistani elite has always been incurably obsessed with Pakistan's image on the Upper West Side and in K Street bars, rather than with the realities of its inner city ghettoes, and its God-forsaken villages. This latest blow, however, must serve to finally wake up the Pakistani elite to take notice. This is no ordinary black eye. It is a battered and bloodied edifice wrapped up in an indefinite coma.