Pakistan is a country located in South Asia. Hundreds of people killed in ethnic-political riots in the mega-city of Karachi, Islamist extremists’ continued bloody progress, new floods that hit millions – all horrific events in Pakistan in 2011 were overshadowed by the disgrace that hit the country when US elite soldiers were able to kill the world’s most desperate terrorist Ladin, in the middle of the country, in a prosperous residential area near one of Pakistan’s foremost military academies.
Nearly ten years after the September 11 attacks in the United States, American soldiers were able to fly over Pakistan from Afghanistan in two helicopters on the night of May 2 and land inside the walls of a large villa in Abbottabad, not far from the capital Islamabad, killing bin Laden, leader for the dreaded terror network al-Qaeda.
Pakistan politicians had categorically denied bin Laden could be found in their country, but judges around the world were quite convinced that he was hiding there, probably in one of the hard-to-access and lawless clan areas near the Afghan border. That he was to be found in a city full of retired military and politicians struck the world with astonishment.
US leaders subsequently confirmed that Pakistani authorities had not been informed in advance – notably the military intelligence service Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). According to the United States, it had happened far too often that covert terrorists had been able to get back to safety when they advised ISI or the army about a planned strike.
An adult son of bin Laden and two men who were believed to be couriers for al-Qaeda were also killed in the storming of the well-fortified villa, while women and children were taken care of by local authorities afterwards. The terrorist leader’s body must have been DNA-identified, and then flown to a US Indian Ocean warship where it was submerged in the ocean in secret.
Years of hunting for the man behind the attacks in New York and Washington had begun to produce results when CIA staff interviewed detained al-Qaeda leaders for information on bin Laden’s couriers. One of them was most recently found by chance in Pakistan and was continuously shaded until the US intelligence service felt certain that a high-ranking al-Qaeda person, probably bin Laden, was in the Abbottabad house. US President Barack Obama ordered a special effort by an elite force after excluding an air strike against a civilian residential area, as there was also a risk that it would never be possible to determine if bin Laden had been in the house that probably should have pulverized.
The attack provoked upset and troubled reactions in Pakistan. The government assured that no Pakistani authorities had helped bin Laden to hide, but still added an investigation. However, the opposition demanded an independent review, not one made by the military. Parliament called for a halt to the US unmanned aircraft’s entry into the country’s airspace, which continued throughout the year against suspected terrorist attacks in border areas. The Pakistani Taliban were avenged for the killing of bin Laden by blasting 80 people and injuring at least 140 in two suicide attacks against a semi-military training camp in the northwest.
Relations between the US and Pakistan, which have been bad since a CIA employee in January shot dead two people in Lahore after feeling threatened, deteriorated sharply during the year. In July, the United States stopped military aid for $ 800 million. Later in the summer, both the US ambassador and US Secretary of Defense Mike Mullen accused Pakistan of cooperating with the Afghan Haqqani network, a militant movement associated with al-Qaeda. Things worsened even more in November, when US aircraft attacked two military missiles near the Afghan border, killing 24 Pakistani army soldiers. Pakistan responded by stopping all supplies through the country of supplies and equipment to NATO troops in Afghanistan.
The better the relations with neighbor India became. The two countries agreed in February to resume peace talks. A “hot” telephone line for terror warnings was established between the capitals, in July the two foreign ministers met, the countries agreed to double their trade exchange within three years and Pakistan followed India’s example by reducing tariffs and raising import quotas. In November, the prime ministers met during a Maldives summit and talked about a new chapter in relations.
In 2012, Pakistan and India also meet in the UN Security Council, where Pakistan was elected in October on a two-year mandate.
The Foreign Ministers’ meeting in July also became a cross-border meeting when India’s 79-year-old SM Krishna met his 34-year-old newly appointed colleague Hina Rabbani Khar, Pakistan’s youngest foreign minister, as well as the first female.
The horrendous wave of assaults by Islamist extremists in recent years continued unabated throughout 2011. The attacks targeted police and military, local militias loyal to the authorities, civilians who happened to be in the wrong place, Muslims who happened to belong to the wrong branch of Islam.
In the multi-million city of Karachi, nearly a thousand people were killed during clashes between supporters of rival parties, the local MQM and the Pashtun-based ANP. During the year, MQM also put the federal government in trouble by leaving government cooperation in protest against partly fuel prices and partly the dominant party PPP’s “dictatorial methods”.
The province of Punjab Governor Salman Tasir was assassinated in January by religious extremists after he hinted that the country’s notorious blasphemy law, which provides for the death penalty for insulting Prophet Muhammad, should be reworked. Shortly thereafter, the government’s only Christian member, Shahbaz Bhatti, minister of minority affairs, was murdered.
In October, Nusrat Bhutto, 82-year-old head of the once powerful Bhutto clan and formerly the country’s “first lady” died. She saw her husband Zulfikar executed by the military in 1979, her eldest daughter Benazir murdered in 2007, son Shahnawaz dead under mysterious circumstances – possibly poisoned – in 1985 and son Murtaza killed by police in 1996.
A November Special Court for Terrorism brought charges against two senior police officers for not giving Benazir Bhutto sufficient protection. In February, the same court issued an international arrest warrant against former President Pervez Musharraf, who was also charged with inadequate protection by Bhutto. Five suspected Taliban have been held in custody shortly after the murder for suspected involvement.
During the fall, hundreds of people in southern Pakistan died in new floods. About 6 million people were affected in one way or another after almost one million houses in the province of Sind were destroyed. The UN appealed for $ 365 million in disaster relief.