Osama bin Laden (OBL), Al-Qaedas leader, is finally dead. President Barack Obama has confirmed that the US Special Forces killed him, recovered his body and disposed it in the high seas. At the same time, cheering groups of Americans came out to celebrate Osamas slaying and were parading with joy outside the White House and close to ground zero. Bin Laden had become the symbol of Al-Qaeda, even though the degree to which he commanded the organisation was questionable. The symbolic value of his death is obvious: the United States can claim a great victory, while Al-Qaeda can proclaim his martyrdom. Hillary Clinton, in a press briefing the other day, lauded the US forces and also Pakistans efforts. Leon Panetta, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, has stated that Pakistans intelligence inputs enabled the successful operation. Although analysts find it difficult to understand what it means at this moment, yet agree that it permits the beleaguered Obama administration to claim victory, at least partially, over Al-Qaeda. For the US, it also opens the door for the beginning of its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, regardless of the practical impact of OBLs death. As far as Pakistan is concerned, it is a fact that Al-Qaeda had radicalised a section of the Pakistani youth and brought terror to the doorsteps of Pakistanis. Over 30,000 Pakistanis have lost their lives in terrorist activities purportedly at the behest of Al-Qaeda. More so, it is possible that this will trigger action by Al-Qaeda in bin Ladens name. We do not know how viable Al-Qaeda is now or how deeply compromised it was. One thing is clear that OBLs cover had been sufficiently penetrated to kill him. The US has itself declared that it was tracking Osama in his present location for over a year. If his cover was penetrated, then the question is that how much of the rest of the organisations cover is penetrated. It is unlikely that Al-Qaeda is so compromised that it cannot take further action. The other possibility is that Osamas death will have no effect, since he had a number of able and active deputies, who will continue their terror operations even after his death. Al-Qaedas ideology was deep enough to have affected a number of international organisations, which will not be affected by Osamas demise. At this juncture, however, the only thing possible is speculation on the consequences of bin Ladens death that is inherently flawed. Still, the importance of his death has its consequences: one consequence will be a sense of triumph in the US; to others, this will be another false claim by Washington and for many, it may be a call to war a crusade. Meanwhile, some analysts are pointing out the worrisome possibility of OBL having been holed up in Abbottabad. Ever since the Tora Bora attacks, the bulk of Al-Qaeda sought refuge in various Pakistani cities, but a large number have been tracked down and arrested. Besides this, there is nothing unusual about OBLs residence: a majority of the houses in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have walls over 12 feet high and no outer windows or balconies. His house was not even heavily guarded. The US Navy Seals took less than 40 minutes to complete the operation, although they lost one helicopter in the mission, they accomplished it with no loss to the attackers or collateral damage. Then the CIA and ISI equation also needs to be discussed. Both have been allies and have notched a number of successes. The recent developments have raised some areas of distrust on moral issues, but that has neither marred the relationship irreparably, nor brought a halt to the cooperation. The successful elimination of OBL with joint cooperation is proof of it. Nevertheless, the US Special Forces conducting the operation on Pakistans soil is also ominous. It proves former President Pervez Musharraf wrong, who had claimed that Osama was killed in 2002, and also the incumbent government, who had categorically stating that OBL was not in Pakistan. Despite the fact that Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the US were insisting that the Al-Qaeda leader was hiding here. Once again, it seems that Al-Qaeda has struck back within hours, targeting innocent civilians in the Charsadda blast. Hopefully, the world will see some respite as a result of Osama bin Ladens demise and not acceleration in terror attacks. n The writer is a political and defence analyst.