The unsurprising non-appearance of an unsurprising dinner guest
It should come as no surprise to anyone that one of the terms of American support for Gen Musharraf after 9/11 (the deal that propelled him from dictator to FATWAT) was that he would allow US forces to operate on Pakistani territory when required. It should also come as no surprise that Musharraf himself would deny that this is so.
It should come as no surprise that Musharraf would claim credit whenever ‘high-ranking’ al-Qaeda operatives (variously called No. 3’s, or high-value targets) are arrested in Pakistan. It should also come as no surprise that Pakistan would vehemently condemn (what’s that civilian government for anyway?) those attacks that actually fail to capture anyone.
It should come as no surprise that credible intelligence reports actually suggested that Ayman al-Zawahiri would be expected at dinner at Damadola in Pakistan’s Bajaur Agency last week. It should also come as no surprise that since Pakistani authorities knew of the attack in advance, he wouldn’t turn up as expected.
It should also come as no surprise that Pakistani opposition groups of various types, whether Islamic fundamentalist or otherwise, would protest against such a blatant violation of sovereignty. It should come as no surprise that political commentators will now point out that this will be bad for America’s image in Pakistan.
All this is par for the course.