U.S. made two crucial changes to initial narrative on the raid on Osama

The U.S. gifted conspiracy theorists in Pakistan a delightful and unexpected bonanza on Tuesday by revising its version of what happened during the raid on al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's residence in Abbottabad in the early hours of May 2.

On Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama's spokesman made two crucial changes to the initial narrative on the raid: Osama was not armed and his wife had not been killed but shot in the leg. Given the level of distrust that most people in Pakistan have for the U.S., these two major changes in the narrative added to the widespread perception that the Americans staged the entire raid to malign Pakistan.

“This was just a drama staged by the Americans to get to our nuclear installations,” said one participant in some of the sporadic protests that have been organised in various parts of the country against the U.S. operation. “If he has been killed, then why is the U.S. not showing the photograph of his body? It just doesn't add up and now they are changing their story,” was the general refrain despite the declaration, by the Pakistan government also, that bin Laden was killed.

Add to this the growing suspicion that the operation was timed to suit Mr. Obama's Presidential campaign. This was reflected in some of the banners that were used in the protests. One banner said: “Obama, win election with votes; not with blood.” Another said: “Obama solve your own problems first. Your people need you more than us. Leave us alone.”

While some found it difficult to stomach the fact that bin Laden could have been living so close to Islamabad, there were voices of reason who sought to counter the conspiracy theorists with questions such as what purpose would be served by maligning Pakistan and if bin Laden was, indeed, alive then the al-Qaeda would have released a video by now to demolish the U.S. claim. Such reasoning, however, could not dent the speculation in a country that is prone to conspiracy theories and the failure of the U.S. to provide proof of his death is bound to keep the rumour mill working overtime for a while.

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