Beyond the obvious embarrassment which the Pakistan establishment, especially the Army and Inter Services Intelligence will have to live down after the killing of Osama bin Laden in premises on the outskirts of a garrison town like Abbotabad, a stone's throw away from the Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul, there should be no cause to rejoice or be overly optimistic that this incident may work to India's advantage.
Pakistan's strategic culture continues to be premised on opposition to Indian hegemony, primacy of its defence requirements, nuclear deterrence which is claimed to be India specific, assurance of external support from a time tested ally in China, identification with conservative Islamic causes despite facing up to dangers of a blowback in recent times and a quest for stability or strategic depth on its western border through establishment of a friendly government there excluding or reducing influence of India.
The Osama killing revives focus again on the troubled relationship which Pakistan enjoys with the United States. US courtship of Pakistan as a moderate Islamic power with a professional Army was deliberate, not inadvertent, even before 9/11. It has continued despite awareness of the intense and rising anti-Americanism prevalent in Pakistani civil society as also the duplicity of the Pakistani establishment in seeking more and more aid for its military modernisation, which has been couched lately in the requirements for counter-insurgency (COIN) operations , against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan in FATA and Swat, while it continues to provide safe haven to the Quetta Shoora and turns a blind eye to Haqqani Shoora's attacks against ISAF in Afghanistan and burning of NATO logistics supply convoys at will as they move through Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa.
So far, including as recently as in the Raymond Davis affair, the Pakistan Army has been able to utilize this dichotomy to its advantage. The successful extermination of OBL may temporarily reverse this. It may be premature to speculate at this point whether this may lead to dividends for either the Pak Army or the US forces as the end game in Afghanistan unfolds. This may depend more on how the Afghan Taliban's threatened spring offensive unfolds in southern and south-eastern Afghan border areas.
While Bin Laden's death will undoubtedly be seen as a major setback in ideological and material terms to the radical Islamic movement in the region, for India it will not alter substantially the threat that it faces from elements involved in cross-border fomenting of terror against it.
Neither should this incident be allowed to engender any romantic notions about emulating a super power's efficient agencies/ special forces in thinking of or talking about taking out personalities inimical to India in similar manner. Instead, vigilance should be enhanced and efforts should continue, to monitor whether this huge embarrassment leads to even minuscule introspection within Pakistan about changing the thrust of policies which have proved counter-productive.
(R Banerji is retired Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat)