The hosing down of Faisal Shahzad

Expect Pakistan to cover up

Ultimately, the US authorities moved faster than Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American suspected of carrying out the (failed) car bomb attack at New York Times Square on May Day. They got their man before he boarded a flight to Dubai. They might also have identified Mr Shahzad’s local accomplices. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that announcing the name of the suspect and the fact that he recently returned from Peshawar is likely to have caused the process of hosing down of Mr Shahzad’s tracks in Pakistan. For the Pakistani ‘agencies’ can not only hose down the park where Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, they can ‘hose down’ an entire village as we saw in the case of Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab.

In the days to come it is likely that the Pakistani government will declare that it will co-operate with the United States, that it will not even ask for proof and dossiers, blame Hakeemullah Mehsud’s taliban group and suggest a connection to drone attacks. However, if there are links connecting Mr Shahzad to people connected to the Pakistani army, intelligence or its surrogate militant groups, they’ll be gone by tomorrow.

The US authorities tried—unsuccessfully—to keep the operation to nab the suspect under wraps until they got their man. Unfortunately, they didn’t think it necessary, or perhaps felt that it wouldn’t be possible, not to warn off the Pakistani side.