This morning's Op-Ed in the Washington Post from Pakistan's President Zardari (Pakistan Did Its Part) seems to be a curious one.
Before we delve into the details, let us be reminded of a few facts:
Since 2011, the US has sent $20 billion in 'direct aid' (cash payments) to Pakistan.
Bin Laden was discovered to be living in a compound less than a mile from Pakistan's equivalent of West Point.
The first comments from Pakistan came from the Foreign Office and stated; “This operation was conducted by the US Forces in accordance with declared US policy that Osama bin Laden will be eliminated in a direct action by the US forces, wherever found in the world.”
Reports from Pakistan say Zardari has still not addressed his own people on this topic, but he has written an Op-Ed for an American paper.
In the Wa-Po piece, the Pakistani President seems to be trying to position his country as the biggest victim of bin Laden. In fact, he leads with that theory;
Pakistan, perhaps the world’s greatest victim of terrorism, joins the other targets of al-Qaeda — the people of the United States, Britain, Spain, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Turkey, Yemen, Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Algeria — in our satisfaction that the source of the greatest evil of the new millennium has been silenced, and his victims given justice.
In the very next paragraph, President Zardari also seems to be making an effort to both attach and distance his country from the killing of OBL;
Although the events of Sunday were not a joint operation, a decade of cooperation and partnership between the United States and Pakistan led up to the elimination of Osama bin Laden as a continuing threat to the civilized world. And we in Pakistan take some satisfaction that our early assistance in identifying an al-Qaeda courier ultimately led to this day.
He seems to be saying that Pakistan did not help the U.S., well not this time anyway, but Pakistan did something, one time, a long time ago. Doesn't that count for anything? Maybe the Pakistani President wants to stay friends with us. He must know that the American people will not be happy learning that bin Laden may have lived in the luxurious compound for the past six years.
And then there is the possibility that Zardari is worried about retaliation from the remaining Al Qaeda members. His Op-Ed also stated;
Only hours after bin Laden’s death, the Taliban reacted by blaming the government of Pakistan and calling for retribution against its leaders, and specifically against me as the nation’s president. We will not be intimidated. Pakistan has never been and never will be the hotbed of fanaticism that is often described by the media.
Hmm, not a 'hotbed of fanaticism?' Here is a Reuters report of Pakistani protests AGAINST the killing of OBL;
And then there is the statement from former President Musharraf, claiming that the US mission was a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty.
President Zardari is in a very difficult place. He runs a nation with a substantial nuclear arsenal. His late wife, President Benazir Bhutto, was killed during an Al Qaeda attack in December of 2007. And when Pakistan was found to be hosting the world's most wanted man, America swooped in with a unilateral military action, killing this criminal without working alongside Pakistan, or even telling the country the operation was happening. Reuters has even referred to Pakistan as "embarrassed" by this.
Perhaps playing the 'victim card' is the only way for Zardari to save face and keep his approval rating high.
You can read the entire Op-Ed from President Zardari, 'Pakistan Did Its Part.'