07 November 2012

Book Review Of "After Abbottabad-Terror to Turmoil in Pakistan" published in Diplomatist October 2012

After Abbottabad – Terror to Turmoil in Pakistan

By Anil Bhat
Pentagon Press
200 Pages
Price: Rs 795/-
Review of the book by Cashmere 
The word terror took on a new meaning with the introduction of Osama bin Laden to the world. America’s “Public Enemy Number One” may be dead, but the world he left behind will never be the same again. This book gives us an introduction to the man behind the terrorist attacks that shook our world worse than an earthquake of magnitude 8 on the Richter scale. It offers us a glimpse into bin Laden’s family background and personal traits. The bin Laden family is one of the most prosperous and influential business families in Saudi Arabia, despite its world famous black sheep. It is a portion of this family wealth that financed the religious fanatic dream of the Sheikh.

The book also introduces us to his infamous organization, the Al Qaeda, a name that the western world associates with the most deadly terrorist organization of all time, but which actually and deceptively has a very humble meaning. It literally means “the base.” The author describes the key influences of the more militant Wahhabi Ideology that led to the organization being formed. He also studies in depth the operations that the organization undertook under Osama bin Laden’s leadership.

For many of us Al Qaeda is a known name, but we are often not aware of just what the organization consists of. In this book the author helps us understand the threat offered by Al Qaeda. He explains the leadership, command structure, financing options and activities that the Al Qaeda is associated with. Many of the major terrorist attacks perpetuated by this organization and its field operatives in the last couple of decades are also highlighted.

The game changer amongst these many attacks of terror being the 9/11 attacks in the US, the book includes a step- wise description of the event that shook the world on that day in 2001. The planning an implementation of various stages of the attack on America which led to the destruction of the Twin Towers and damage to the Pentagon is well outlined by the author.

A very important and ominous development is the partnership between Al Qaeda and Pak army, which already steeped in organizing terror, extends its reach and the great irony is that it becomes US’ ‘frontline ally in the war against terror.

The aftermath of 9/11 leading to the “War on Terror” is common knowledge but the inside story of how Osama bin Laden managed to evade the forces after him for the next ten years makes for interesting reading. The execution of the operation which led to the elimination of Osama bin Laden is the stuff action movie scripts are made of. Just how the US Navy Seals moved into the closed compound of the house in Abbottabad which hosted Osama bin Laden and his family members and finally eliminated him.

The Pakistani response to the event and its possible compliance in keeping Osama bin Laden safe while he was on the run from the US forces is also explored. The family drama that ensued with Osama bin Laden’s surviving family after the attack on the Abbottabad house has been brought out. His surviving wives and children in Pakistan are in the unique position where the country wishes to send them away but their host nations are far from ready to accept them back into their fold with open arms. The legal mess over their extradition is going to take some time to solve. Interviews of his wives have also indicated that the ISI was well aware of where the family fled and hid during the time that US forces chased them. This may well have been the reason why the US kept the Pakistani forces uninformed of their final operation to take out Osama bin Laden.

The turmoil that came about within Pakistan in terms of immediate physical repercussions and led to the murder of the bold journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad explores the volatile situation that terrorism related activities have caused in the country. There is no doubt that Pakistan was caught napping by the operation launched by the United States. It is clear that the equation between the two countries will never reach the same comfort level ever again.

The United States is definitely not as pleased with Pakistan as an ally as it used to be, but at the same time it cannot totally break this alliance with a clean cut. It will have to continue a close, but guarded relationship with its former bosom pal. It has already reduced the financial aid that was being doled out top Pakistan. Unfortunately this is not enough for India as the threat of covert terrorism and overt war with its neighbor has in no way lessened since the incident. India’s activities to help rebuild infrastructure in Afghanistan is also unacceptable to Pakistan.

The fall of the Taliban government in 2011 in Afghanistan snapped the bonds of power between Kabul and Islamabad. The departure of the bulk of the NATO forces from the region next year will render it highly volatile and unstable. The Taliban will try to regain lost ground and its Pakistani supporters will do all that they can to help. The acts of terror continue like dogs snapping at the heels of the present Afghan government.

Another matter of concern for India is the growing bond between China and Pakistan. China is backing Pakistan with technology and political support. Pakistan has its own agenda to recover lost ground, both domestically and internationally. While India’s stand on terror from across the border may be vindicated it is still by no means safer than before. If anything the situation today is even more unpredictable and deadly than before.

The future of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India are very much interwoven. Until there is a step down in terror activities and a demolition of terrorist groups like the Al Qaeda and Taliban, the world will not rest easy. Unfortunately the terror groups that are fragmented across the globe still retain the ability to strike hard and effectively against any nation on earth. India remains fated to live with the uncertainty of volatile neighbours, for a long time to come. All it can really do is maintain a strong defensive position and ward off whatever attack may come next to its shores maintains the author.

The writer is Senior Correspondent, WordSword Features

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