South Asia

Bin Laden death dominates South Asia press

Indian man reads a newspaper
Image caption The death of Osama Bin Laden has received saturation coverage in South Asia

News of Osama Bin Laden's killing by US forces in Abbottabad is on the front page of practically every leading Pakistani and Indian newspaper - with pages of coverage devoted to his death and its likely impact.

Columnist Kamran Shafi, writing in Pakistan's Dawn newspaper, says that the circumstances of Bin Laden's death will embarrass the authorities.

"Why did the [army] puff out its [collective] chest and glare at Hamid Karzai when the Afghan president suggested that al-Qaeda's top leadership was hiding in Pakistan?

"Why the stout denial all these years?" Mr Shafi writes.

"I mention this because this quite preposterous house should have stuck out like a sore thumb and been the subject of some suspicion on the part of the Mother of All Agencies [Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence] which routinely bugs people's telephones and has the equipment to pinpoint a cell phone to within 10 metres."

An editorial in The News says that within Pakistan - except among extremist outfits - there will be relief that a man whose operatives claimed lives in cities everywhere is no more.

"Certainly, the astonishing manner in which the operation that resulted in Bin Laden's death - the news of what had happened… leaves us all gasping in astonishment," the editorial said.

"It is hard to believe that foreign aircraft could have flown so deep into our territory undetected and unanticipated."

Another editorial, this time in The Nation says that Bin Laden's presence in Abbottabad has not only exposed Pakistan's flawed security measures, "but has also busted the bubble of foolproof security measures in Pakistan's military hub".

Official sources correlate the presence of Bin Laden in Abbottabad with no terror activities in the city, the editorial says, because "the militants knew if they targeted this region, their chief would be traced".

The editorial says that security agencies were well aware of Bin Laden's presence in the city and had planned to target him before 23 March last year. "But due to some unknown reasons, the offensive against Bin Laden was postponed."

The Statesman says that official denials over Bin Laden's presence in Pakistan has hampered efforts to deal forcefully with the so-called Pakistani Taliban, with which al-Qaeda is said to have links. "Tens of thousands of people have died in Pakistan as a result of terrorist activity since 9/11, more than all the European and American victims combined," it says.

"Given this context, and amid predictions by Western commentators of possible terrorist retaliation against US and British targets, it is Pakistanis, along with Afghans, who are most likely to pay a blood price in terms of revenge attacks for the slaying of a man who is seen by some in the Muslim world as an iconic figure."

Finally The Pakistan Tribune reports that members of the Pakistani Senate from the opposition benches have termed the US operation to kill Osama Bin Laden as a "breach of Pakistan's sovereignty".

It quotes one senator as saying that the incident "will have far-reaching consequences" and the alleged unawareness of the country's intelligence agencies was a big failure on their part… Pakistan's enemies will now exploit the incident".

'No time to gloat'

In India, the Delhi-based Hindustan Times devotes half of its 20 pages to stories and opinion pieces on the killing.

Image caption The Pakistani press has been pre-occupied with the role or otherwise of its intelligence services

It said that although Bin Laden was dead, his legacy lived on in a "part of the world to which he did not belong".

"That is why India rightly warns that terrorism remains a global threat until the terrorist cancer in Pakistan is also excised, that the ghost of Bin Laden is driven from the lands to its west, and that the US and the rest of the world rests on laurels now only at their peril."

"US kills Osama, Blows Pak cover," headlined The Times of India on its front page.

"If we take the US narrative at face value, Pakistan's lack of co-operation in dealing with terror is laid bare," the newspaper wrote in an editorial headlined End of The Road.

"On the other hand, if Islamabad feels constrained in publicly owning up to any kind of help in the operation, that indicates the degree of fear inspired by Bin Laden's followers and concomitant difficulty of combating his legacy."

"He's Gone, But Are We Safe," ran the front page headline of The Economic Times.

"After losing the trust of terrorism's foes and facing the fury of betrayed terror groups, Islamabad will come under pressure to abandon the strategy of using terror for added strategic reach," the newspaper said.

"Its only hope out of a spiralling descent into chaos is genuine democracy, in which real power is transferred from the armed forces to genuine representatives of the people, not a handful of elite families who assume a congenital right to rule."

An editorial in The Hindu says that Bin Laden's death may strengthen the forces against militancy in Pakistan.

"In India, which has tried to overcome the public's hostility towards Pakistan over the Mumbai attacks through a series of peace moves under the personal initiative of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, it will certainly be hoped that the death of Bin Laden strengthens the hands of those forces in Pakistan who want their state to shut the door on militancy, extremism and terrorism once and for all," the paper said.

"[But] New Delhi must resist the temptation to crow, and must push ahead with the peace process with the civilian government of Pakistan."

The Indian Express echoed a similar sentiment.

"For India, however, this a not a moment to gloat over. The death in Abbottabad is a reminder of the realism needed to negotiate the new great game being played for Afghanistan after the draw down of American troop presence," the paper said.

"Of course, India has to continue to be innovative and large-hearted in engaging with as large a section of the Pakistani establishment as it can.

"But given its limited leverage within Pakistan, India must also be engaged with the US and the international community on steps towards Af-Pak peace, to prevent the re-emergence of Afghanistan as a hotbed for extremism and also to enable political stability in Pakistan."

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