That’s the question I asked after reading this bit from Walter Russell Mead:
The report, available here in full, attributes bin Laden’s ability to escape detection to the government’s ”gross incompetence,” and finds that the “collective failure” of the military and intelligence agencies allowed the US to carry out an ”act of war”: “Culpable negligence and incompetence at almost all levels of government can more or less be conclusively established….this [was] a case of nothing less than a collective and sustained dereliction of duty by the political, military and intelligence leadership of the country.”
Pakistan has fought India in four wars of various sizes and intensities between 1947 and 1999, and its military has generally performed quite well. If Pakistan wasn’t able to really win any of those wars, it was due mostly to the country’s strategic limitations. India just has more of everything — perhaps most importantly a lot more strategic depth. About the only time the Pakistanis suffered a real defeat at India’s hands was in the 1971 war for Bangladesh, but that was as much of a civil war within Pakistan as anything else. And “Eastern Pakistan,” aka Bangladesh, was separated from the rest of Pakistan by almost the entire breadth of India.
So what happened to the Pakistani military that it could acquit itself with honor against India for half a century, but couldn’t even detect a raid by the United States?
First off, the US military is much more potent (and sneaky) than India’s. Much. But also the Pakistan military, and especially its related intelligence service, have become much more politicized in the last two decades. And politicalization and effectiveness never go hand-in-hand.