ISLAMABAD: The Abbottabad Commission has recommended restructuring and overhauling civil and military intelligence agencies through a parliamentary oversight and proposed a well-defined national security policy to ensure effective counter-terrorism performance.
While the government plans to convene an all-party conference to chalk out a consensus-based national security policy, the commission noted that despite the fact that Pakistan was the main victim of terrorism, there was no national security policy in the country to combat the menace. The classified report was leaked to Al-Jazeera news network– a copy of which is available on its website.
“The excessive powers and non-accountability of Pakistani intelligence establishment have posed the greatest threat of state failure to Pakistan,” the commission noted in its findings, adding, “The current defence policy and the joint strategic directive modality is a reflection of the military hegemony over the formulation of the National Security Policy (in unwritten form) which despite token civilian bureaucratic inputs, excludes serious civilian input.”
Analysts say the government might use the findings of the Abbottabad Commission to assert civilian authority on matters of national security in the upcoming APC.
The leaked report states that the National Assembly should set up an expert committee to look into the performance and mandate of the various civilian and military intelligence agencies.
“In particular, the failure of the intelligence community with respect to developments preceding and following the May 2  incident [Osama bin Laden raid] needs to be thoroughly looked into,” it reads.
The expert committee, the report says, should assess intelligence agencies work, culture, achievements and failure, their mandate and organisation, accountability, parliamentary oversight, among other things, and make appropriate recommendations consistent with civilian control and national security.
The violation of this democratic procedure was one reason for exclusive vigilance towards a border from where a developing threat was palpable, if not certain. As a result, no effective ‘pro-active’ policy planning took place and “we were left in our usual reactive policy mode in which policy options in a crisis are close to zero”.
Need for a National Security Council
The commission said a properly constituted National Security Council was necessary.
“Just as there is no national security policy, there is no NSC in the country. The Defence Committee of the Cabinet is not a substitute for a NSC. The NSC primarily should be a body that collects, collates and coordinates information and intelligence related to national security and submits regular policy paper and recommendations to the chief executive, i.e. the prime minister. These papers and recommendations should address long term, short term and immediate national security issues including crisis situations.”
It recommended that the core of the NSC will need to be a secretariat headed by a national security adviser of acknowledged analytical ability, having a deep understanding of the internal, regional and international situations and their trends.
The Abbottabad Commission recommended that the National Counter-Terrorism Authority needed to be made into a real rather than fictional body.
Corp commanders discuss implications of report
Also on Tuesday, the top military commanders informally discussed the likely implications of the leaked report of the Abbottabad Commission.
Chaired by Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the meeting was held at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.
An Inter-Services Public Relations statement said the routine corps commanders meeting undertook a comprehensive review of the prevalent internal and external security situation of the country.
However, sources confirmed that the top brass also discussed the findings of the commission.
A senior official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said although officially the report was not made public, the conclusions of the commission were nothing new. The official admitted that there was a ‘systematic failure’ at all levels.
He said the findings had made it clear that the slain al Qaeda kingpin Osama bin Laden had no institutional support from within Pakistan during his nine-year stay in the country.
When asked, he said the military would give its formal reaction once the report was officially made public.
(Read: Abbottabad leak)
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2013.
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