A statement issued by the government last week stating that the Abbottabad Commission will release its finding report this month was apparently a tactic to “pressurise” the commission and the announcement was made without consulting its members.
Officials and support staff working on the report told The Express Tribune that the judicial commission was in fact far from completing the final report and the press announcement has put undue pressure on the body.
“In fact, we are all surprised as to how such a press statement could be issued. I am working on compiling the report and I don’t believe we can finish it this month,” an official said.
The source, however, added that after the press release was issued, the team has started working on the compilation in a “hasty manner” and therefore, it seems very unlikely that a “thorough” report could be compiled this month.
One of the reasons for this could be the fact that the judicial commission is yet to finalise which interviews to include in the report and which to discard.
Some of the members of the commission also have travel plans this month, which may cause further delay in the publishing of the report.
“There are major differences amongst the members about the content of the report, and if it is completed this month, it may be done in haste, and that will not be an accurate report,” said the official, adding that the most crucial question the investigations will try to answer is: “Was Osama bin Ladin even present in that compound?”
“Although we found his wives and children there, I am amazed at the general public perception, after conducting interviews from Abbottabad, that the al-Qaeda chief was not present in the same compound. The denial amongst the people of Abbottabad is so strong that the commission members were forced to consider this possibility too,” the staffer said.
The staff member also claimed that there is “no chance” of retracing Bin Laden’s steps since the commission has not come across any such proof. “As of now, from the evidence or interviews I have been privy to, it is unlikely that we will get to know how the al-Qaeda chief was present there in the first place.”
When asked about what the differences amongst the members were, the source revealed that one of the members, General Nadeem, wanted to include into the investigations the presence of US personnel in Pakistan, and how the CIA was able to monitor the house where Bin Laden lived.
“He insisted on including the investigations about former ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani giving unauthorised visas to the Americans.”
The official added that all the commission members want the report to be made public, and it is likely that any institution could be held responsible. According to the staffer, more than 100 people have been interviewed by the commission, including a number of journalists, analysts, security officials, government officials and diplomats.
When contacted, head of the commission Justice Javed Iqbal and other members of the commission were not available for comments.
The commission was due to submit its report by the end of last year and its mandate was to ascertain facts regarding the presence of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan, following his killing by US Navy Seals in May 2, 2011.
Justice Iqbal is heading the commission, which includes Lt Gen (retd) Nadeem Ahmed, former Inspector General of Police Abbas Khan and former ambassador Ashraf Jahangir Qazi. Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi has been working as the secretary of the commission.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2012.