Barack Obama recently unveiled volume 1 of his memoir: ‘A Promised Land’. The book has already generated ripples across the world on account of its explosive content. From revealing US stereotypes on several issues to personal accounts of various political leaders, to highlighting watershed events that shaped the contemporary world, the book has been a window into the mind of the former US president.
Among other things, the most important event that Barack Obama described in vivid detail is the US operation that eliminated the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Osama Bin Laden, and the doubts harboured by the former US President in informing Pakistan about the covert operation.
In his book, Obama has provided a blow-by-blow account of the assassination of the Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in 2011. However, what’s perhaps more intriguing, from an Indian perspective, is the Obama’s and by extension the United States’ suspicions on Pakistan’s commitment to its fight against terrorism.
Obama reveals American misgivings on Pakistan’s fight against terrorism
Obama’s memoir provides a glimpse into the fading American trust on Pakistan. The former US President sharply notes that though they had allied with Pakistan on a range of counterterrorism operations and the country had acted as a crucial gateway for the American forces in Afghanistan, it can no longer be treated as a trustworthy partner in America’s battle against terrorism.
Obama recounts in his memoir that he had straight away perished the thought of involving Pakistan in the raid on Osama’s hideout, as it was known that elements in the Pakistani military had close ties with al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Obama writes that the elements in the military, and intelligence services, used the terror groups as strategic assets against Afghanistan and India.
“The fact that the Abbottabad compound was just a few miles from the Pakistan military’s equivalent of West Point only heightened the possibility that anything we told the Pakistanis could end up tipping off our target,” Obama wrote, expressing the fear that if Pakistan was informed about the mission, it would be leaked.
The former president also revealed that the then defence secretary Robert Gates and his vice president Joe Biden had opposed the secret operation inside Pakistan. Both of them were worried about possible consequences if the mission fails. Obama was aware of such a risk, and he remarked that he was likely to end up a one-term president if he got it wrong.
Pakistani military leveraged terrorists as a countervailing force against India
“We had one other constraint: Whatever option we chose could not involve the Pakistanis. Although Pakistan’s government cooperated with us on a host of counterterrorism operations and provided a vital supply path for our forces in Afghanistan, it was an open secret that certain elements inside the country’s military, and especially its intelligence services, maintained links to the Taliban and perhaps even al-Qaeda, sometimes using them as strategic assets to ensure that the Afghan government remained weak and unable to align itself with Pakistan’s number one rival, India,” Obama said in his book.