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Did Osama really die here?

As a garrison town, everything in Abbotabad is very neat and prim, as I drive its streets, I can scarcely believe that this is where bin Laden met his fate.
Last modified: 5 May 2011 17:31
Photo by AFP

Abbotabad is a very schizophrenic town. The centre houses the seat of military learning. Its military academy teaches officers everything from warfare to dining etiquette.

As a garrison town, everything is very neat and prim. The grass is cut just so, the military regalia polished and signs dot the landscape proclaiming "Pakistan is beautiful".

Then around the corner Pakistan explodes in a riot of colour and mayhem. Buses that look like wheeled rainbows and smell of street food assault the senses in a very agreeable manner.

Abbotabad, named after a British general in the British Indian colonial army is a unique town because of those contrasts.

As I drive its streets, I can scarcely believe that this is where bin Laden met his fate.

Piecing together what happened that night from eyewitness accounts has been tough.

Some claim four helicopters were involved, others say trucks with US soldiers pulled up outside the house.

The one thing everyone is in universal agreement on is that what happened was extraordinary.

To mount an attack like this on Pakistani soil opens a very prickly subject for the Pakistanis.

Some of India's most wanted live within Pakistan's borders.

It's not beyond the realm that India right now is mulling over the consequences of such an action.

The leader of the Afghan Taliban is rumoured to be in Quetta, southwest Pakistan. There are some in the US administration that would love to get him.

Once you violate a country's borders like that, what's to stop others from doing it? 

That's a question that's now being uttered in private.

The Pakistani army is by far its strongest institution. This attack has not only embarrassed the army but has shown it to be weak in the face of US power.

That it hasn't publicly reacted to the incident is only adding to the public sense that the army is in panic mode.

Its central command, according to my sources, is holding crisis meetings to formulate a public response.

Its day four and the silence from the army is deafening.

Add to that the US government's refusal to release a picture of the bin Laden's body and you have a boiling cauldron of doubt, disbelief, anger and frustration. A heady brew indeed. 

The longer that goes on, the more people will simply sigh and ask the same question in two slightly different ways.

Did Osama really die, here in the heart of the Pakistan army? Or did Osama really die?