Abbottabad raid: Panel under pressure to keep report classified

The Abbottabad Commission

ISLAMABAD: The Abbottabad Commission – which has completed its findings on the May 2 raid – is facing pressure from “certain powerful quarters” to not make public its report — a document that can potentially raise critical questions about the role and competence of security agencies operating in the country.

The commission – probing the death of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in a midnight raid by American commandos in Abbottabad on May 2 2011 – has been working on a report for more than a year now and has missed several deadlines for unveiling its findings.The latest announcement by the commission said it would be making its report public by the end of May — a commitment that remains unfulfilled to date. Prior to that, the commission’s chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal told the media in Islamabad that the report would be out by the end of December 2011.

Insiders privy to the commission’s working told Media on Thursday that there was immense pressure on the probe body for holding back its findings and it has been directed to keep the contents of the report classified.An official said: “Certain powerful quarters want the commission to submit its report to the government without sharing it with media as announced by Justice Iqbal on more than one occasion”.Meanwhile, officials said that even if the report is made public, there is a possibility that it would not contain anything that would implicate intelligence failures or security breaches.

“It is going to be a document that will be hiding more than revealing… Nothing new might come to the surface,” said one official. According to earlier reports, most politicians had called for holding somebody responsible for the failure of intelligence agencies in tracing down Bin Laden who lived undetected virtually in the backyard of a premier military training facility in Abbottabad.Insiders added that it had been more than a month since the commission had last interacted with some government officials and since then there seems to have been no development.

A member of the commission had told Media in early May that the drafting would take less than a month if it is done regularly. Almost two months have passed since then without any word on the progress of the report.Last month, a member said that the commission wants to meet with then prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani before finalising its report but amid deliberations the Supreme Court disqualified him.

The commission had also sent a set of questions to President Asif Ali Zardari as head of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) some six months ago but never received an answer. Top leaders of almost all political parties had appeared before the commission from time to time to record their statements.But the official added that the commission had ultimately decided to move ahead and finalise the report despite no meeting with Gilani or replies from the president. – Thetribune