Opposition parties have given the PPP-led coalition government until June 3 – the day the federal budget for the next fiscal will be unveiled – to form an independent commission to investigate the May 2 top-secret raid by US commandos in Abbottabad.
A closed-door joint session of parliament had recommended earlier this month that the government set up a commission to probe the air-borne raid that had killed al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
The opposition’s warning comes a day after Interior Minister Rehman Malik sought to soothe frayed tempers of the opposition, saying that the proposed commission would be set up within a couple of days.
The warning was made by leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan after a meeting with opposition parties at the Parliament House in Islamabad on Monday.
The opposition parties warned of a “collective response” if the proposed commission was not set up before the budget session of Parliament.
They kept the media guessing about their “collective response”. But has already made its intentions clear. It has announced plans to launch a “decisive protest campaign” against the government.
The PML-N has started contacting other opposition parties to muster as much support as possible. And Monday’s session was part of this campaign where Chaudhry Nisar met with JUI-F’s Maulana Gul Naseeb Khan and Maulana Ghafoor Haideri, PPP-Sherpao chief Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, Prof Khursheed Ahmed from Jamaat-e-Islami, and Abdul Rahim Mandookhel of the Pakhtunkhwa Awami Milli Party.
Chaudhry Nisar regretted that the prime minister had ignored his letter wherein he had requested him to form the commission proposed in the parliamentary resolution to investigate the Abbottabad fiasco.
In the letter, he proposed Justice (retd) Shafiur Rehman, Justice (retd) Nasir Aslam Zahid, Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G Ebarhim, Majeed Nizami, Asma Jahangir and Mehmood Khan Achakzai be made part of the commission.
Citing last week’s terrorist attack at Pakistan Navy’s airbase PNS Mehran, the opposition leader said that the incident accentuated concerns about the capacity of the government and its security forces to fight militancy.
The fact that Bin Laden lived undetected for years right under the military’s nose in Abbottabad raised questions about Pakistan’s commitment in the fight against terror with US officials saying that Pakistan’s military was either “incompetent or complacent”.
Chaudhry Nisar criticised the government for “not taking the country’s political leadership into confidence” on the recent interactions with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen.
He said the opposition parties would meet again on June 3 to devise a future course of action if their demand was not met by then. He added that the PML-Q (Likeminded Group) would also be invited to that session.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2011.