Pakistanis Skeptical of Report on bin Laden

By Obaid Khan
Graffiti reading 'Bin Laden Town' is seen on a wall near the house where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was caught and killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 6, 2011. UPI/Sajjad Ali Qureshi
1 of 2 | Graffiti reading 'Bin Laden Town' is seen on a wall near the house where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was caught and killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 6, 2011. UPI/Sajjad Ali Qureshi | License Photo

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Aug. 7 --

Pakistanis are greeting with criticism and skepticism an official probe that found that Pakistani authorities' incompetence was behind both al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden's ability to find refuge in the country for nine years and U.S. forces' ability to enter the country in a raid that resulted in the killing of bin Laden.


The 336-page report by the five-member Abbottabad Commission has not been released officially but was posted by Al Jazeera last month. It concluded that civil and military authorities' negligence allowed bin Laden to hide in Pakistan after fleeing the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States. The report also said the Pakistan government's response "before, during and after" the May 2011 U.S. raid "appears in large part to be a story of complacency, ignorance, negligence, incompetence, irresponsibility at various levels inside and outside the government."


It also found Pakistani authorities "showed no particular desire to discharge their responsibility to take charge of counterterrorism and the search for Osama bin Laden".

The report has created new debate among politicians, law enforcement agencies and the general public. Politicians blame law enforcement agencies for negligence and question their competence, while law enforcement agencies blame political leadership.

The military has not responded officially to the report, which is highly critical of the country's security forces, including the Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

Pakistanis interviewed by UPI Next were skeptical of claims in the report that their government or military had no idea bin Laden was living in Abbottabad, close to a major military training center.

"I cannot believe that our law enforcement agencies were unaware of the presence of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad," Malik Ameen, a lecturer in English at Federal Government College told UPI Next.

The U.S. raid also exposed the incompetence and negligence of the law enforcement agencies, he added.

"There is need to account and to probe the high officials for negligence and incompetence," he said.

A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to comment on the leaked report, said the U.S. raid had left people feeling insecure.


"The majority of people, including myself, are feeling insecure and feeling that our military, law enforcement agencies and political leaders are not capable of saving their citizens and anyone can stage a raid in Pakistan," the official told UPI Next.

He said he doubted that authorities were unaware of bin Laden's presence.

"I strongly believe that it was in the knowledge of law enforcement agencies that OBL (Osama bin Laden) was staying in Pakistan because where he was staying is an army garrison town and there is strict security," he said.

A former army officer also expressed disbelief that bin Laden had hidden in Abbottabad without the knowledge of Pakistani intelligence services.

"The intelligence agencies of Pakistan are very active and competent, I couldn't believe that it was not within their knowledge that OBL was staying in Pakistan," the officer said, requesting anonymity because of the sensitivity of the report and of his comments.

Raja Zubair, a lawyer, said the government should take action against the negligence of the authorities concerned.

He said bin Laden's presence had damaged Pakistan's image internationally and created distrust between Pakistan and the United States.

Pakistani leaders "were very sure that bin Laden was not within the boundaries of Pakistan, whereas the entire world has seen that Osama was found here," Zubair told UPI Next.


Qamar Zaman Kaira, a senior leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party, which was in power when the raid took place, said the intelligence failure was not Pakistan's alone.

"If it is the failure of Pakistani intelligence agencies that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was staying in Pakistan for many years and it was not under their knowledge, then it's also the failure of the CIA and MI6 (British intelligence) and other international agencies which were also hunting down bin Laden," Kaira told UPI Next.

Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid told UPI Next he would not comment on the Abbottabad Commission until its report is made public by the government.

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