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War against error

india Updated: May 10, 2011 21:30 IST
Aslam Niazi
Aslam Niazi
Hindustan Times
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The following is the text of a briefing on the recent events in Abbottabad given by a Pakistan ministry of foreign affairs spokesman to the international media:

“How could we not have known where Osama bin Laden was? As you know, there are known knowns and unknown knowns. You do know that, don’t you? There are things we know we know, like which side of our naan is buttered.

We like things to be clarified, which is what we’re doing now. But there are other things that we don’t know we know.

These are things buried deep in the rubble of our subconscious, like the Mossad agents under the debris of the Twin Towers they brought down. So we didn’t know that we knew where Osama was. Or didn’t know when we were asked if we knew.

When we said Osama wasn’t in Pakistan we weren’t lying. You just don’t understand how tough a neighbourhood we live in. None of our borders is settled. Afghanistan claims Pakhtunkhwa, the Indians won’t give us Kashmir, we’ve given up part of the Northern Areas to China. We just don’t know where Pakistan begins and where it ends. Truth is we didn’t know Abbottabad was in Pakistan.

Why did the Pakistan army have its academy and so many establishments there then? You know how our army is. It keeps going into places that don’t belong to Pakistan. It’s a tradition it started in 1947. Doesn’t mean that because the Pakistan army’s there it’s part of Pakistan.

But the Americans did find Osama there and killed him and the Pakistan Army was all around him. So how did the army not know when the Americans did? But, of course, we knew he was there. But we knew him as Abu Abdullah. If you’d asked us, “Do you know where Abu Abdullah is?” we’d have told you. You never did. We wonder why. Was it to make Pakistan look bad later? You didn’t know that he was called Abu Abdullah? How could you not have known?

You expect us to believe that? We also thought he was dead earlier, well before the Americans arrived. Why? Because over the last five years, we’ve delivered well over 72 virgins to that house. So we thought he’d been martyred already.

We didn’t know Abu Abdullah was a Saudi sheikh. Crescent my heart and hope to dye, like our president does. Not our fault if the penny didn’t drop. Which reminds us: could you spare a dime? Why? Because we are one of the countries hit hardest by global warming. That’s what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says, though it’s run by an Indian. And it’s happening faster than anyone anticipated. First the Americans warming up with the baniyas, and now seals in Abbottabad. What next? We need billions fast. At least give us the $25 million the Americans put
on Osama’s head. If we hadn’t looked after him, he’d have died shivering in a cave in Tora Bora, no one would have found him, and the Americans wouldn’t have been able to pull off this stunt. So be grateful. That’s all we ask.
And, of course, we knew there was something going on at the compound that night. We had a secure two-way link with Abu Abdullah that the Americans never picked up. Two empty non-alcoholic beer cans with the tops cut out and tied with string. So when the Americans came through the door, we heard him yelling ‘May Day! May Day!’ Why didn’t we help? Well, at first we thought he was stating the obvious; we knew it was May Day. Then someone said he was probably speaking in Bengali and asking for girls, but it was quite late and we didn’t think we’d find any.”

Aslam Niazi is the pseudonym of a South Asian diplomat
The views expressed by the author are personal

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