The commission that was tasked with investigating the events leading up to the May 2 Abbottabad raid in which Osama bin Laden was killed, has decided not to make its report public. Instead, it will only release a summary of its findings. If it does keep the report secret, the commission will be guilty of shirking its duty. The point of setting up the commission was to make public the security and intelligence lapses that led to the Navy SEALS raid, not to cover them up. Citizens have a right to know how their government failed. Rather, it seems, the commission’s mere existence was meant to be enough to placate the public. Getting a chance to read through its findings was likely never a priority for a military that has, of late, employed a practice of keeping secrets from the very citizens it is meant to serve. Perhaps, one reason for the secrecy is that the OBL commission lost sight of its original mandate. Press reports suggest that it was far more interested in scapegoating civilians like former ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, than investigating any wrongdoing on part of the establishment. It also showed little or no curiosity about trying to investigate how Osama bin Laden was able to come to Pakistan and find safe refuge here for so many years.
Then again, we shouldn’t be surprised that the commission’s report is being kept secret. In Pakistan, the point of commissions seems to be to ensure that nothing damaging is ever uncovered or revealed to the public. The Hamoodur Rehman commission report gathered dust for decades (till it was published by one newspaper after being leaked in India) while, more recently, the commission tasked with finding the killers of journalist Saleem Shahzad seemed more interested in exonerating the ISI than in pursuing the perpetrators. When the OBL commission missed its deadline of early May for wrapping up its work and the end of May for making its report public, one hoped that the delay meant it was still busy putting together all the pieces of Bin Laden’s presence in the country. Now, it is clear that the commission was only buying time in the hope that the people would forget why it existed in the first place. We urge to make public the report so we can try and learn from our mistakes.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2012.
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