Manhunt: The operation that never happened in the minds of our people

The book, “Manhunt; the ten years search for Osama bin Laden from 9/11 to Abbottabad” maps out the long exhausting quest of preying on, locating and killing OBL in a manner that could blow your mind.

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Reading a book is just like travelling through different periods of times, whether you want to land into the past, present or future solely depends on your choice of the book. On May 2, we saw the torrent of posts and publications, some denouncing the half-hearted response of the government on the eve of the operation, while others clobbered the apathetic attitude of superpowers towards the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other countries, especially developing countries. Having read “Inside al-Qaeda and the Taliban” “Ghost wars” and “Growing up bin laden” I had acquainted myself with at least little understanding of Osama bin laden and how from a dissolute Arab, he renovated himself into a mastermind of 9/11 and the ensuing reign of terror. Those accounts, however, were before the Abbottabad operation so when I wanted to write something on that operation, I couldn’t simply find the traces of May 2011 in my memories, a teen and impassive to the outside world, what precisely you could expect? Hence, bringing me back to my thesis that “Books help you travel through the different periods of times”.

Manhunt; the ten years search for Osama bin Laden from 9/11 to Abbottabad” authored by Peter Bergen, was originally published in 2012. Indeed a riveting account. The book maps out the long exhausting quest of preying on, locating and killing OBL in a manner that could blow your mind. For paranoid, conspiracy-ridden minds, the answer to every simple or complicated problem is to place blame on an external evil, or a hidden ruse and in our case? America fits in that character. Well, doubting the official version of the story is not an alien feature exclusively pertained to Pakistanis, even in so-called developed countries, some people still believe that Earth is flat and that landing on Moon never happened, right? However, in a country like Pakistan, the line between fiction and reality sometimes becomes blurred. Not to speak of Corona Virus, don’t we know how vaccination campaigns have been the source of abhorrence to our people? So obviously, in an operation like Abbottabad where even your government was clueless to the last moment, the paranoia by a layperson was justifiable.

Accusing Pakistan for harbouring Osama? was of course an idiotic proposition. Who would want to keep terrorist just a half-mile from its Military Training Academy?

If we talk about the book, so it has three central players; Pakistan, Osama Bin Laden and America. Peter Bergen, the wizard of storytelling, addresses every single detail of Osama bin Laden’s journey from a no-one to a terrorist to again a no-one. The gripping account explores American’s everlasting obsession with Osama Bin Laden, an attempt to restore the damage caused by 9/11, another facelift. How America for 11 years sniffed the whereabouts of her arch-enemy, to finally the unintended discovery of him, the author didn’t appear to cover their secret yet not-so-secret pranks. As per the author, America couldn’t simply believe the discovery of her target, and even on April 30, just two days before the operation, Obama was surveying the chances of Osama bin Laden, ranging from 90% to 50/50. Nevertheless, having found him, America was quick to put a bullet through his left eye, scattering his brain behind. There author recounted some of the light moments, for instance, how the participants of the operation forgot to take the tape measure with them and eventually they had to lay down someone of the exact height next to Osama to verify as the last proof. Obama was reported to have joked about that incident.

Then we have Pakistan, whose soil had been used by a terrorist(s) as well as by the machine churning out those terrorists, I mean America. Pakistan was clueless about the presence of Osama Bin Laden, or at least the majority was oblivious to his whereabouts. Perhaps, there was some so-and-so who rated out Osama Bin Laden, Shakil Afridi to be one of them, however, accusing the government of Pakistan for harbouring him? was of course an idiotic proposition. Who would want to keep terrorist just a half-mile from its Military Training Academy? Still, being unaware of a terrorist who had been operating just under their nose, is a shameful leaf flagging up our incompetency something that nobody wants to read. The rest of the story follows the funeral and dumping of Osama’s body into the Arabian sea given the reason that a known shrine would turn him into another hero/martyr of the Muslim world.

I would give the book five stars. A captivating read. I believe, the author managed to maintain the velocity of inquisitiveness, coming up with some incredible facts, keeping its reader engrossed. I would definitely recommend you to read it.

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