Commissioned to investigate

Published: June 1, 2011
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Supreme Court Judge Javed Iqbal to head the five-member Abbottabad raid commission.

Supreme Court Judge Javed Iqbal to head the five-member Abbottabad raid commission.

Responding to a demand made by parliament and to a warning by opposition parties that an independent commission be set up to investigate the Abbottabad raid before June 3 — the day the federal budget is to be presented — the government has set up a body headed by Supreme Court Judge Justice Javed Iqbal. Other members of the five-man body include Justice Fakhruddin G Ibrahim (though he has reportedly declined the offer), Lt-Gen (retd) Nadeem Ahmed, former police chief Abbas Khan and former ambassador Ashraf Jahangir Kazi. While the PML-N has said that it wasn’t consulted before the commission was finalised it is hoped that the inclusion of persons of known integrity on it and the fact that it is headed by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court will allay the opposition’s concerns to some extent. This raises the hope that the commission will prove it is well-suited to the job at hand and be able to perform its role with good faith.

Certainly there is still a very great deal we need to know about what happened in Abbottabad, while, practically speaking, the setting up of the commission also means the budget session is now more likely to proceed along smooth lines.

The key issue at hand is that of putting before parliament and citizens details of all that happened at Abbottabad. The mandate of the commission is a dual one. It is to look both into how Osama bin Laden evaded discovery for so long and how the US was able to enter our airspace undetected. The answers to both these questions are highly relevant. The incident that took place almost a month ago is too significant to be discarded. We must hope that the commission succeeds in uncovering at least some of the mysteries that still surround the issue. For this, it should have a clear timeframe in mind and also it must be ensured that its findings are made public. It must provide answers to parliament and come up with a report that can help us move on from an episode that shook our sovereignty to the core, while also suggesting measures to ensure there is no repetition of such an event, with all its very dangerous implications, on our soil.

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