Judicial commission

It would be difficult to question the rationale of establishing a national judicial commission, as proposed by PML-N leader Mian Nawaz Sharif at a press conference in Islamabad on Wednesday, to probe into the May 2 Osama bin Laden operation. The terms of reference, as he spelled out, stipulate going into the causes of failure of both civil and military authorities to detect not only bin Laden’s stay at Abbottabad for five long years or so, but also the commando raid by US helicopters. That four helicopters were able to sneak into the Pakistan skies, taking off from Afghanistan, and the noise they would have inevitably created, particularly in the silence of midnight; that one of them came down with a thud, possibly, as a result of ground fire from the guards at the compound; that the US Navy Seals flew back after completing their mission in 40 minutes during which, they claimed, they killed bin Laden – and despite all that, there was no response from Pakistan’s concerned military wings.

This scenario rightly provided Mian Nawaz the justification for maintaining that our defences were weak and inadequate. The rulers must, therefore, understand the urgency of strengthening our defences to enable the armed forces to meet such challenges in the future, and must take steps to do that.Undoubtedly, it constitutes a clarion call for a thorough investigation into the causes of this catastrophic lapse. Suspicions of partiality to his own colleagues could arise if a serving General was assigned to hold an inquiry into this disaster, as the government has pledged. The best course appears to be to conduct a judicial inquiry through the present Chief Justices of the country; they should be free to summon anyone – a serving or retired civil or military official or any person from the public – before them to get an expert opinion and produce evidence in compliance with the terms of reference. The nature of the case, the commotion it has created in the public mind and the uncertain consequences that are being talked about in the informed sections of society also justify the apparently short timeframe (three days) in forming the commission and the period of 21 days for completion of its assignment. Mian Nawaz has already sent a letter to Prime Minister Gilani containing his proposal. – Nation