Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)
Bin Laden haunts Pakistan even after his death
ABBOTTABAD, PAKISTAN: Children play cricket in a patch of scorched grass and scattered rubble in Abbottabad - all that remains of the final lair of the man who was once the most wanted person on the planet.
It was in this Pakistani city that Osama bin Laden was killed in the clandestine Operation Geronimo raid by US Navy Seals in the early hours of May 2, 2011.
The operation had global repercussions and dented Pakistan’s international reputation exposing contradictions in a country that had long served as a rear base for al-qaeda and its Taliban allies while suffering from the effects of terrorism.
Bin Laden had been living in seclusion for at least five years in Abbottabad, hidden behind the high walls of an imposing white building less than two kilometres from a renowned military academy.
The raid caught Pakistan between a rock and a hard place.
Officials could deny knowing he was there - but in doing so they would effectively be admitting to an intelligence failure.
The US operation reinforced an already strong anti-american sentiment among a population tired of the financial and human toll paid for the war on terror.
Pakistan was initially receptive to the founding myth of al-qaeda - the resistance of Muslims to US imperialism. But at the time of his death, Bin Laden’s local popularity had waned. “Before, I remember that people named their children Osama, even in my village,” said Pakistani journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai.
Even in Abbottabad, a prosperous and largely tolerant medium-sized city, there is ambiguity towards Bin Laden, whose house was razed in 2012 by authorities so that it would not become a memorial. “It was a very bad thing for this place and for the whole country,” said Altaf Hussain, a retired schoolteacher. “By living here, Osama gave this city a bad reputation.”