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Wednesday, 6 July 2011


ISLAMABAD, July 5: The commission investigating the May 2 covert US raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad ordered the Ministry of Interior and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) on Tuesday not to repatriate members of the family of the slain Al Qaeda leader without its consent.

Two wives and six children aged between two and 12 are reported to be in the custody of security agencies. According to a press release, the decision was taken at the first meeting of the four-member commission, headed by Supreme Court’s senior judge Justice Javed Iqbal, at the cabinet division.

Other members of the commission who attended the in-camera meeting were former chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority Lt-Gen (retd) Nadeem Ahmed, former IG of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Abbas Khan and former diplomat Ashraf Jehangir Qazi. Initially, it was a five-member commission, but Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim refused to be part of it. The next meeting of the commission will be held on July 11. According to the press release, the commission also decided that if needed it would request senior civil, military and political leaders to attend its proceedings.

It decided that individuals interested in appearing before the commission with information pertaining to the Abbottabad operation would be invited through the media by July 31. They will be notified about the date, time and venue for appearance. Their identity will be kept confidential and, if required, they will be provided legal protection. The commission said it could co-opt experts from specified fields for assistance. The members of the commission have been asked not to speak to the media about its proceedings.

According to information collected from various sources, the members unanimously agreed not to set a deadline for report of the inquiry. They wanted to keep the proceedings free of any timeframe, allowing them to take as much time as they felt was necessary to complete the investigation. Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan of the PML-N has demanded a deadline for the commission to complete its task. The PML-N has rejected the commission on the grounds that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani did not consult the opposition leader on its formation as required under a resolution adopted by a joint sitting of the two houses of parliament on May 14.

According to the press release, the commission’s task is “to ascertain full facts regarding the presence of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan; investigate circumstances and facts regarding the US operation in Abbottabad; determine the nature, background and causes of lapses, if any, of the authorities concerned; and to make consequential recommendations”.

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