New Delhi: The Abbottabad Commission in Pakistan has concluded that former al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden's nine-year-long stay in Pakistan and the May 2011 secret US raid were because of 'gross incompetence' of the state institutions. But they say that the ISI didn't know Laden was there.
Pakistan's commission of enquiry looking into Osama Bin Laden's presence in Pakistan and the US's operation to kill him, described it as 'comprehensive and sustained failure', 'negligence and incompetence' and 'national failure' of 'political, military intelligence and bureaucratic leadership'.
The 337-page report, that was leaked online by several media organisations, is a goldmine of information on Osama's life post the 9/11 attacks. It details how his family of three wives and as many as nine children travelled across Pakistan without detection for nine years.
The report talks about his landing in Karachi shortly after the attacks in 2001. It says Osama joined the family when it moved to Peshawar in 2002 and then shifted to the Taliban infested areas of Swat and Bajaur in Waziristan in mid-2002. Next, he moved to Haripur worried by the arrest of al Qaeda leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and finally settled in the Abbottabad compound in 2005.
It showed as a lie all previous intelligence reports from the Musharraf government that Osama was either dead, or living in mountainous caves. The report also castigates officials for closing the hunt for Osama in 2005, while asking how Osama could buy property and not be prosecuted for building violations, although adding that his car was once stopped for speeding in Swat bazaar.
Despite its harsh words, the Abbottabad Commission headed by Retd Justice Javed Iqbal and including former Pakistani envoy to India Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, fails to nail the truth of Osama's existence in Pakistan, blaming it on incompetence, but failing to address the complicity of officials.
It leaves glaring holes and unanswered questions like:
- How could foreigners like Osama and his Kuwaiti bodyguards live in houses across Pakistan without raising suspicions?
- Which officials could have known about Osama's existence and who besides the few arrested helped with hiding a man wanted for the murder of thousands?
- If Osama had no friends in the Pakistan Army or ISI, why did he feel confident enough to make his home in the heart of Pakistan's military establishment in Abbottabad for more than 5 years?
Without those answers all Pakistan's inquiries will risk being called an eyewash or a cover-up.