A judicial commission investigating last year’s death of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad is still waiting for answers to a set of questions it had forwarded to President Asif Ali Zardari more than four months ago.
Officials privy to the proceedings of the Abbottabad Commission said on Tuesday the probe body had asked heads of all political parties, including the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), to respond to its queries regarding the incident.
US commandos raided a compound in Abbottabad on May 2, 2011 to capture the former al Qaeda chief who had been living there for more than five years.
The government subsequently formed a five-member judicial commission to probe the presence of Bin Laden so close to Pakistan’s premier military training facility and the circumstances leading to his death in the raid by US troops.
The commission was due to submit its report by the end of last year but is still struggling to finalise it reportedly due to reluctance on whether to hold somebody from within the Pakistani political or military leadership responsible.
Officials said questions were sent to President Zardari not as head of the state but as chief of a political party; however, an answer is still awaited, with the PPP arguing that by virtue of being the president, Zardari is immune from being present before any commission.
Officials at the presidency, however, denied having received any correspondence from the commission. The PPP secretariat in Islamabad also did not confirm that it received any letter from the probe body for its chief.
Chairman of the Abbottabad commission Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal announced in December to send questions to the president and asked the heads of other parties to personally appear before the body to record their statements.
But except for a few, heads of nearly all the major political groups did not personally appear before the committee and were instead represented by other members.
The PPP immediately said it was not binding on its leaders to appear before the commission and no one from the party represented President Zardari before the judicial body.
Officials said the commission was likely to mention this factor as one of the reasons for the probe’s delay when it finally comes up with the report possibly by the end of this month.
When contacted, both the chairman of the commission and Presidential spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar were not available for comment.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2012.
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