Monday, May 02, 2011

What Now?

Now that Bin Laden is dead, one starts to wonder where the United States and its allies go from here. An article in the New York Times this morning suggests that there is concern among Afghans that the West may view his death as the end of its mission. In a sense, there is fear that the U.S. and its allies will now pack up and head home.

However, it is hard to imagine that this will be the case. If anything, the United States has more of an incentive to follow through with its undertaking. The top dog has been caught, but there are still plenty of others worth pursuing. There is also hope that the capture and death of Bin Laden will drive the Taliban to stop fighting and consider entering Afghanistan’s political realm. Arsala Rahmani, once a member of the Taliban and now on the High Peace Council, suggests that he doesn’t “think this will affect the Taliban fight in Afghanistan in the short term, but in the long term it will because Al Qaeda helped the Taliban in fighting and other activities” (Rubin). He went on to “[add] that he thought it would drive the Taliban toward negotiations and making peace with the government ‘because they don’t have any other way’ “ (Rubin).

There is still a long fight ahead, and it will be interesting to see exactly how much or how little U.S. allies were involved in the operation to snatch Bin Laden. This is especially pertinent when considering Pakistan. One begins to contemplate how much the government of Pakistan was actually doing to fight terrorists within its own borders. What’s even more striking is the fact that Abbottabad, where bin Laden was captured, is less than 100 miles away from the capital and is known to have a large Pakistani military presence:

“Bin Laden was not killed in the remote and relatively lawless tribal regions, where the United States has run a campaign of drone attacks aimed at Qaeda militants, where he was long rumored to have taken refuge, and where the reach of the Pakistani government is limited.

Rather, he was killed in Abbottabad, a city of about 500,000, in a large and highly secured compound that, a resident of the city said, sits virtually adjacent to the grounds of a military academy. In an ironic twist, the academy was visited just last month by the Pakistani military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, where he proclaimed that Pakistan had “cracked” the forces of terrorism, an assessment that was greeted with skepticism in Washington” (Perlez).

In the end, the coming days and months will bring about new details. The world will have to sit back and wait to see what this all means for Washington’s relationship with Pakistan and for the international community as a whole.

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