ISLAMABAD, June 21: Acting rather swiftly after the Supreme Court had named the heads of inquiry commissions on the killings of Osama bin Laden and journalist Saleem Shahzad, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani announced on Tuesday the names of their members.
According to a handout, Prime Minister Gilani approved summaries sent by the ministry of law, justice and parliamentary affairs proposing the constitution of inquiry commissions. The complexion of the Abbottabad commission would remain the same as earlier announced by the government, except Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim who had refused to be its member. Justice Javed Iqbal, senior puisne judge of the Supreme Court, will lead the probe into circumstances under which OBL was killed in a covert US military operation.
Other members of the commission are Lt-Gen (retd) Nadeem Ahmed, former inspector general of police Abbas Khan and former ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, with Cabinet Division Secretary Nargis Sethi as its secretary. The ministry of interior will provide secretarial support.
The terms of reference of the commission are: (a) to ascertain full facts regarding the presence of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan; (b) investigate circumstances and facts regarding the US operation in Abbottabad on 2nd May, 2011; (c) determine the nature, background and causes of lapses of authorities concerned, if any; and (d) make consequential recommendations. A couple of changes have been made in the commission proposed earlier on the killing of Saleem Shahzad. Instead of the additional inspector general (investigation) of Punjab and deputy inspector general of Islamabad police, the inspectors general have been made part of the new commission.
It will be headed by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and include Federal Shariat Court Chief Justice Agha Rafiq Ahmed Khan and the president of the Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ). This commission has been asked: (i) to inquire into the background and circumstances of abduction and subsequent murder of Saleem Shahzad; (ii) to identify culprits involved in the abduction and subsequent murder; (iii) recommend measures to prevent recurrence of such gruesome incidents against journalists in future and (iv) to probe the matters of conduct which are in derogation of Articles 4,9,17, 19 and 19A of the Constitution and investigate in-depth such background facts. The secretary for information and broadcasting will act as secretary of the commission.
Unlike the Abbottabad commission whose terms of reference don’t include any timeframe, the tribunal on the killing of the journalist will submit its report within six weeks. The information ministry will provide secretarial support to the commission. The PML-N, the main opposition party, has once again rejected the constitution of the Abbottabad tribunal, terming it an insult to the May 14 resolution of a joint sitting of both houses of parliament that had called for consultation with the leader of opposition before its announcement.
The party’s spokesman Ahsan Iqbal said an inquiry through national consensus was needed, but the government appeared to have decided to condemn the parliamentary resolution to dustbin. Meanwhile, talking to reporters at a function held by the Benazir Income Support Programme the prime minister said the Supreme Court had given its ruling on the constitution of the commissions and no one should question their credibility.
He said the government had earlier made Justice (retd) Ebrahim a member of the Abbottabad commission on the recommendation of the leader of opposition in the National Assembly, but he had withdrawn his name, saying he had not been consulted by Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. The prime minister said the government had been consulting all political parties on important national issues. “Since the Abbottabad commission has been put in place, nobody should jump to conclusions,” he said. He said state institutions, including intelligence agencies, should be supported.