The commission assigned to probe the May 2 Abbottabad incursion by US Navy SEALS that killed Osama bin Laden has directed the interior ministry and the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to ensure that Bin Laden’s family does not leave the country without its permission.
Two of Bin Laden’s wives and some of his children were left behind in Abbottabad after the attack. The family is believed to be in the custody of the ISI.
The commission, headed by senior Supreme Court judge Justice Javed Iqbal, chalked out the modalities of its working and announced that it will call members of civil, military and political leadership during the course of inquiry, if needed.
“The ministry of interior and ISI have been directed to ensure that the family of Osama bin Laden is not repatriated from Pakistan without the consent of the commission,” a press statement issued after an in-camera meeting of the commission said.
The statement also elicited relevant information from the public and invited individuals to appear before the commission before July 31. Their identity will be kept confidential and they will also be provided legal protection. Tuesday’s meeting was also attended by Abbas Khan, a former inspector general of police, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, a former diplomat, Lieutenant General (retd) Nadeem Ahmed, a former military official, and Cabinet Division secretary Nargis Sethi.
The terms of reference of the commission are to ascertain the facts regarding the presence of Bin Laden in Pakistan for such a long time, investigate the circumstances and facts surrounding the US operation, determine the nature, background and causes of lapses of the authorities concerned, if any, and make consequential recommendations. Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G Ibrahim, who was initially included as a member, refused to become part of the commission when it was initially announced because the government did not consult the chief justice before nominating Justice Javed Iqbal as head of the commission. The government later made a formal request to the chief justice who allowed Justice Iqbal to preside over this commission constituted under section 3 of Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Act, 1956 (Act VI of 1956). Justice Iqbal will be retiring as a Supreme Court judge on July 31 but he claims that his retirement will not affect the working of the commission.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2011.
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