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March 17, 2017

The Abbottabad report

Editorial

 
March 17, 2017

The fallout from Husain Haqqani’s column in the Washington Post about his supposed role in facilitating the arrival of American spies to Pakistan continues with both the PML-N and the PTI agreeing to form a parliamentary commission to investigate the matter. Even the PPP, which has been embarrassed by Haqqani’s revelations and thus been furious in denouncing him and distancing itself from him, agreed to the commission. Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, who proposed the idea of the commission, said he wanted to give it the power to seek the report of the Abbottabad inquiry commission that was formed after the Bin Laden incident. This raises the question of why we need another commission when the whole matter was thoroughly investigated by the Abbottabad Commission in 2013. That would include any role played by Haqqani – who was questioned by the commission – in the matter. Former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and retired Justice Javed Iqbal, who was the chairman of the Abbottabad Commission, have both said that the commission’s report would expose Husain Haqqani. The answer, then, is not to set up yet another commission but to finally make public the report of the Abbottabad Commission. We have a long history of suppressing reports that might reflect badly on the state. Every commission report has been stuffed in some dusty drawer, never to see the light of day. The government and opposition both seem to stress on the need for a commission and if asked about the Abbottabad Commission report being made public, they agree it should. Then why don’t they just do that?

The only way forward is to make the report public. It is important the whole story no longer be secret. All aspects of the report should be released as indeed the authors of the 300-page document had advised. That would not only save us the trouble of forming yet another commission to investigate Husain Haqqani, we would also find out how Osama bin Laden got to Pakistan, whether anyone in the state was helping and if someone was colluding with the US in its raid. The first draft of the Abbottabad report was leaked to Al-Jazeera in July 2013. The commission itself was formed a year earlier, and was extremely critical of everyone involved. The final report is believed to be more measured and we as a nation deserve to know what it says. Right now all we have is allegations, not just about Haqqani but about everyone who was in government then. Any investigation should not be focused only on one individual; rather we need a comprehensive picture of what happened. Releasing the Abbottabad report is the only way of doing that. As in past reports of equal or greater significance, the failure to make them public has simply created more problems than have been solved. From this point of agreement in parliament, we hope strides can be made towards making the report a part of our public record.