Pakistan's bin Laden inquiry hits snags
Pakistan's government promised Friday to consult with the opposition on forming a commission to investigate the failure of intelligence agencies to track down Osama bin Laden after the opposition and civil society groups rejected the panel, DPA reported.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday appointed the five-member commission to find out if some officials were complicit with bin Laden's presence in Pakistan or whether it was an intelligence failure.
The plan hit a snag when the main opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), objected, saying it had not been consulted and did not approve of three of the members, and a senior member of the commission said his name was included without his consent.
The problems prompted local newspapers to publish front-page obituaries of the commission. The News headlined its story "Osama commission dies premature death" and The Express Tribune "Abbottabad commission crashes before taking off" while saying the government effort was a non-starter.
The government tried to make a turnaround Friday.
"The government has decided to take the opposition on board about the appointment of the probe commission," said Shabbir Anwar, a Gilani spokesman.
"The government is willing to complete the process of consultation as early as possible, but it may take some time as we are busy in the process of presenting the annual budget in the parliament," he said.
Bin Laden was killed May 2 in a US military raid on a compound in Abbottabad, 60 kilometres north-east of Islamabad, where he had been living for years.
Parliament adopted a resolution last month asking the government to appoint an independent commission in consultation with the opposition to examine the intelligence failure to find bin Laden and detect the US covert attack that killed him.
But a senior lawyer named Tuesday to the team, Fakhruddin G Ebrahim, sent a letter to Gilani, saying he was not informed about his inclusion in the commission.
The commission, headed by a senior judge of the Supreme Court, also consisted of a former army general, a police officer and a diplomat. Opposition parties have objected to the inclusion of the final three members.
Pakistan has come under pressure at home and abroad for failing to find bin Laden living near military academies in Abbottabad.
"We are trying to untangle the puzzle of bin Laden's presence in Abbottabad," US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said during a visit to Pakistan last month.
She asked Pakistan to investigate the issue but said, "There is absolutely no evidence that anyone at the highest level in the Pakistani government knew that Osama bin Laden was living just miles from where we are today."