According to the Pakistani security services, the opinion is that Osama Bin Laden is dead. The problem is they have no concrete evidence to confirm this. The Pakistani Prime Minister Asif Ali Zardari told journalists at the presidential palace that the American security services are no longer certain whether he is alive or dead, and that American intelligence in these matters is somewhat more sophisticated than that in Pakistan. Despite this thorough uncertainty, he still maintained that is was “evident” that Bin Laden was “no longer of this world”.
His comments supposedly reflect the view of the Pakistani arm of the Taliban, who have recently taken root in the Swat-Valley, taking advantage of the cease-fire in the region.
The official line from Washington however, is that Bin-Laden and his cohorts are entrenched in the north western tribal regions on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border. So the official American view seems to be that he is still active, and supposedly still the mastermind behind the entire terror caper the US invasion force is supposed to be battling against.
It has to be said that Bin Laden has proven to be rather an escapologist of genius. Only a short manhunt was necessary to locate Saddam Hussein and drag him, aged and bedraggled, from his foxhole. If the US military could manage to locate a man in a hole in a country the size of France, in so short a time, why haven’t they ever located Bin Laden? Since 2001, for the general public (even though he’s über -infamous as world villian #1) he’s really just been “some guy” appearing in poorly-produced videos broadcast on Al-Jazeera; and even that gig has been upstaged by better videos from his so-called myriad foot-soldiers. His demise has been declared a few times since about 2003, in some cases complete with photos (fake or genuine) of his remains, but unlike Mark Twain he has never stepped forward to maintain that reports of his death have been wildly exaggerated.
Perhaps Pakistan considers that it would be best to officially declare Bin Laden dead, maybe play on whatever vanity he might have, enough to cause him (or someone) to release a new video confirming that he hasn’t died of kidney failure, or a bombing raid, or malnutrition, or ‘cabin-fever’ and sheer boredom. Perhaps the US wants him to remain ‘alive’, because it appears that he still forms an important public focus point for the entire campaign. No Bin Laden = no reason, or at least a somehow weakened legitimacy for having US soldiers tearing about the deserts of the Middle-East, killing and getting killed hoping to find him. Perhaps Bin Laden is like the “tomorrow”, which never arrives.