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Osama: An American Story

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Top of the ninth.

A tilt between the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Score knotted at 1.

But it wasn't the hometown team that suddenly brought the crowd at Citizen's Bank Park to its feet.

Indeed, the entire country had erupted - dancing in the streets from New York to San Francisco.

America had hit a home run.

Osama bin Laden was dead.

USA! Number one!

The front page of the Philadelphia Daily News summed it up tidily: We Got the Bastard.

Vengeance at Last, chimed the New York Post.

Amid the blood-frenzied blare of an honest-to-goodness terrorist killing, a certain irony may have been lost on Americans. Had there ever been a time when they so closely resembled the crowds of every-day Pakistanis, stomping and shrilling anti-U.S. slogans in their frequent bouts of flag-waving fervour?

Jive, jive! Pakistan!

But it wasn't only Americans exulting in the May 1 mission that saw Navy SEALS drop from stealth helicopters on an unsuspecting compound in Abbottabad -- a mission that ended with the iconic al-Qaeda leader reportedly shot in the head and thrown into the sea.

Canada horned in the party.

Burn in Hell, spat the Edmonton Sun's front page.

Justice est faite, pronounced Montreal's La Presse.

But what was the actual story?

To some, it had as many holes in it as bin Laden's bullet-ridden bedroom.

He was hiding behind a woman, the White House pronounced. He had a gun. He was unarmed. The firefight lasted 40 minutes. No, it was over in seconds. Apparently, he had a heck of a porn stash.

What to believe? Or, more importantly, who?

The trick to killing a man perceived as a super-villain by one-half of the world -- and a folk hero by the other half -- is to avoid throwing his mutilated corpse into the sea.

That's when people start talking.

Like NDP Deputy Leader Thomas Mulcair. A day after his party's unprecedented showing in the federal election, Mulcair was making headlines for acting downright un-politic. He told the CBC's Evan Solomon that he didn't believe the U.S. even had photos of bin Laden's corpse.

"If they've got pictures of a cadaver," he said, "Then there's probably more going on than we suspect in what happened there."

Conservative MP Chris Alexander blazed back: "We've heard lots of people who are denying the facts in this case. It's an insult to everyone's intelligence to propagate that kind of conspiracy."

The next day, a chastened Mulcair was back to politics, claiming his earlier statement was the "meandering" by-product of post-election fatigue.

If the official account of bin Laden's death gets a little frayed in Canada, where we're expected to march in step with our cross-border cousins, imagine how it has splintered in Pakistan.

Or ask Rohit Gandhi, an Emmy-winning documentary maker and journalist who has reported extensively from Pakistan.

"Many feel that Osama, if at all he was captured, was captured somewhere in the mountains and the Americans created this whole attack exercise to defame Pakistan," he says. "They say the Americans are now after the country's nuclear weapons... This is all part of the larger strategy that no Muslim country should have nuclear weapons."

Some, like Abbottabad resident Khurram Yusuf Zai, say that Osama died many years ago in the mountains and the operation was a hoax. That's why America has yet to show the world any proof of his death.

Farooq Ahmed, another Abbottabad local, fumed, "How is it possible that a man who is so important was living here and nobody had any clue? There was obviously no Osama here."

Pakistan, of course, has little reason to embrace the U.S. narrative.

Aside from having its sovereignty routinely trampled under America's rough-out combat boots, the country has also become a popular business destination for U.S. drones. On May 24, no less than seven suspected militants were killed in a single remote-controlled rampage.

"US drone strikes have killed more civilians that terrorists," Pakistani Senator Tariq Khan seethed. "The collateral damage is too heavy and the result is that more and more Pakistanis get angry at the Americans for using drones and violating Pakistan air space and sovereignty.

In the parlance of baseball, Pakistan is the away team. They're not expected to be thrilled when the other team scores. And it's hard to deny that America scored big on Operation Osama.

Pakistan must realize that they remain mired at the bottom of the ninth.

More than a few runs down.

And, most certainly, run down.

At least, retired Pakistani general Hamid Gul is gamely trying to steal third. The man credited with sowing the seeds of the modern-day Taliban, is floating another story.

"My feeling is that it was all a hoax, a drama, which has been crafted -- and badly scripted," he said, during a sit-down with Gandhi.

If bin Laden was so publicly suffering from a serious kidney ailment, why wasn't there a dialysis machine at his compound, he asked? Or a single recorded doctor's visit? And America's most persuasive body of evidence is, literally, fish food.

Gul is too savvy a veteran of this grand political game to know that the American story -- We Got the Bastard -- has won the day.

"Whenever I come across the American people, I find them very, very good -- in fact, innocent. I think it is their innocence and gullibility which is exploited by their policy makers -- who are driven by a dark impulse unfortunately.

It's a sentiment that's found wide currency in Pakistan -- and just about nowhere else.

But then again, the home team always has the advantage.

Here's a clip from Rohit Gandhi's interview with Hamid Gul: