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Bin Laden raid one year later: Pakistan's Army untouched

The US Navy SEAL operation that killed Osama bin Laden last May threw the Pakistan Army into international disrepute. But in Pakistan, the Army has rebounded.

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Amid the tensions unleashed by the leak, the civilian government fired its defense secretary, who was close to the Army. The government's rare show of defiance led to rumors of a coup that were finally dispelled when Parliament passed a resolution telling the Army to stay within its constitutional limits. 

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For the civilian government to have staved off a military coup shows some democratic resilience.

If the current government can continue to hang on until elections next year, it would become the first elected government in Pakistan's history to complete a full five year term in office. But it will have done so partly by not pushing the Army too far. 

'the process is less than trustworthy'

In the critical days after the raid, the Parliament curbed criticism of the Army and ended up releasing a joint statement condemning the entrance of US Navy SEALs onto Pakistani territory, and demanding the establishment of a commission tasked with exploring the raid.

The commission has delayed publishing its report several times. Instead, information regarding the process and findings of the report have been leaked several times. “That in itself indicates that the process is less than trustworthy,” says Siddiqa.

Leaked information has indicated that the commission is not willing to pin the blame on any one institution or individual. In one news report, published in the English-language Pakistani paper The News, a whole host of possible accused are listed, including “Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa [provincial] government, the Pakistan Army, the PAF [Pakistan Air Force] , the ISI [the Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency], and the Intelligence Bureau.”

“To be completely honest, I don't even think it matters who sits on the commission. The Army is going to define the final outcome and control the results of the report,” says Siddiqa.

Hamid Gul, the former director-general of the ISI, agrees.

“It would be interesting to see the final results of the report. But naturally, they would have to watch the national interest, since the country and the government would be pretty sensitive to the results of the final report. After all, elections are coming up,” says Mr. Gul.

The military is now riding a resurgence of popular sympathy following a US cross-border attack that killed 24 Pakistani troops and an avalanche that buried more than 100 soldier near the Siachen glacier in the contested territory of Kashmir

“There is no doubt that the May 2 attack led to some image bashing in the media and among politicians. But these recent events naturally result in a wave of sympathy,” says Dr. Rais.

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