Sunday, 14 July 2013

OBL Report - Bold and Credible, Nasim Zehra

OBL Report - Bold and Credible, Nasim Zehra
The news that the government will inquire into how the Abbottabad Commission(ABC) Report document was leaked and private conversations with those who read the report when it was submitted to the last government, conclusively establish the Report’s authenticity. The protestations about its leaks are unworthy of attention. To the authors our gratitude for producing a brave, bold and credible document, while a milder thank you to al-Jazeera which in its professional competitiveness trashed the PPP & the Care-taker governments decision to not make public the report. 

Ironically the fear of public opinion, has always haunted the powerful, AFTER committing costly, often even deadly blunders. Fortunately we in Pakistan are now in the midst of attempting, through public debates, to alter this so that the fear strikes them BEFORE they commit such costly blunders. What also helps is that since the bitter yield of past blunders now haunts us at very our core, there is zero margin of error available to those in power.

Piling up of unacknowledged blunders, especially in the security and defense has been Pakistan’s hallmark. The list is endless beginning from the conduct of the 1948 war, the 1965 war, the East Pakistan operation, participating and co-authoring the US covert war in Afghanistan, the use of militants as foreign policy tools, loss of Siachin and the pea-brained Kargil operation. In most cases official efforts made to study the causes of these debacles, never actually served the principal purpose of revisiting a blunder-that of avoiding similar future blunders. 

The reason was simple. For the sake of political expediency so as not to ruffle feathers of those in Pakistan’s power institutions, most inquiries were never made public. Hence the debate on root causes of security blunders, without officially certified evidence was always bracketed as one conducted by anti-Pakistan, anti-army etc individuals and groups.

The Hamood ur Rehman Commission was finally made public, courtesy an initial leak by the foreign media, about four decades after the report was prepared. It had not remedying and rectifying effect on the way national security affairs were run in Pakistan.

By contrast blunders committed by elected leaders ranging from NATIONALISATION of the Bhutto era, to question about Nawaz Sharif’s yellow cabs, from gross mismanagement of the economy to corruption & nepotism scandals, from institutional decay to lack of accountability, are all openly and excessively discussed. At the ballot, in the media and in Courts often the blundering politicians have been forced to pay in cash, power and even tragically in blood. The consequence of the perpetual accountability of civilian blundering is that today on the political front Pakistan is on an irreversible democratic path. Pakistan, now a text book case of how to transition from military dictatorships and blundering elected governments to more accountable democratic ones, is past the point of systemic structural crisis on the political front. Vigilant accountability of the elected will keep Pakistan on away from destructive political crisis while ensuring that political problems are acknowledged and tackled.

At this hopeful political juncture of the ABC Report is a very positive development because it provides an opportunity to the government to address the systemic and chronic problems that exist in Pakistan security institutions as well as the weaknesses that exist within the civilian setup that contribute to accentuating these problems. The primary mandate of Commission that authored the Report was to honestly reconstruct the events of May 2 ,2011 and to detail the weaknesses of our institutions that led to the incredulous situation in which key intelligence and security institutions of the State of Pakistan were found in a ‘resting’ mode when Pakistan’s territory was invaded by a foreign country.

In the Commission’s words “it has sought the fullest and most accurate possible account of the events surrounding May 2 2011, to draw lessons and make recommendations to ensure that May 2, 2011 like incidents do not occur. Accordingly of the thirty six question raised by the Commission , more than 27 dealt with issues related to security and intelligence. Also equally important were the two questions related to the responsibility of the country’s highest elected offices to hold those institutions accountable on the OBL issue. As the report concludes out clearly the civilian leadership had abdicated its responsibility as well.

The conclusion of the Commission is that “finally no honest assessment of this situation can escape the conclusion that those individuals who wielded primary authority and influence in national decision making bear the primary responsibility for creating the national circumstances and environment in which the May 2, 2011 incident occurred. It is unnecessary to specifically name them because it is obvious who they are.” The Report has now become an incontrovertible part of Pakistan’s history outlining the gross incompetence of key security institutions and the elected political leadership committed in handling the Osama Bin Ladin case. Pakistan’s involvement in it was not only by virtue of having agreed to help the US in hunting down key al-Qaeda men, but also because of the killing fields Pakistan was fast becoming with the growing nexus between al-Qaeda, Taliban, the TTP and the sectarian militants.

Yes indeed we all know who they were the ISI chief above all because his institution was the main handler of the OBL case, followed by the MI, the Army, Airforce and the President and the Prime Minister. But the names are not important since the problem is six decades old. It is now time to reform Pakistan’s security system the responsibility of which rests with the elected Prime Minister of Pakistan.

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