Friday 19 July 2013

More from the Abbottabad Commission report

I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that the Abbottabad Commission report is one of the most important documents to have come out of Pakistan for many years. It is full of insights into how Pakistan really operates - public officials that appear to know little about their specialist area, numerous examples of gross incompetence, buck-passing and massive corruption. Here are a few more snippets. However, I urge readers to read a copy of the report, even if, by all accounts, the final version was watered down to placate the Army and intelligence services.

Para 135 - "Major Aziz's remarks about Lt Col Saeed Iqbal are potentially significant as they could reveal about CIA network in Pakistan. Lt Col. Saeed Iqbal, according to Major Aziz employed former ISI employhees in his security business. Although he appears to be a very suspicious person and may well have played an active role in facilitating the Abbottabad incident, the ISI informed the Commission that neither Major Aziz nor Lt Col. Saeed, despite their suspicious background play any such role. This conclusion is somewhat strange as Saeed Iqbal left Pakistan immediately after the incident and attempted to sell his properties."

Para 149 - "At minimum, police or security/intelligence officials should have noticed a few other things. There were no visitors to the OBL Compound. There were no television cable or telephone lines. No rubbish was collected. There were 18 feet high walls at places and barbed wire. There was a 7-foot screening on the top wall. This was a security feature, not a purdah requirement. The children did not go to school. The size of the Compound expanded over time. There were no security guards. None of this negligence necessarily implied connivance. But it does suggest gross negligence at the very least."

Para 187 - "The Home Secretary (of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa -ed) and the civilian administration were similarly out of the loop despite their clear responsibilities. Their actual role in counter-terrorism was at best marginal, and in the tracking of OBL it was precisely zero. While there can be no excuse for this 'acceptance of realities' by senior officials, it has to be noted that they functioned in a very perverse political and administrative environment in which insistence on the correct performance of duty was often rewarded with severe punishment."

Para 217-220 - "During the seminar Afridi (Dr Shakeel Afridi) said he met the head of Save the Children, an Australian named Mr Michael McGrath...He said he wanted to launch a Save the Children Program in Bara and asked for Afridi's advice. He suggested to Afridi they meet in Islamabad to discuss the matter in greater detail...
McGrath appeared very concerned that no more than 5 per cent of the funds were being used properly. The rest was pocketed by various people. He asked for Afridi's assistance and offered to pay him for his efforts. He also wanted to know why Mangalbagh opposed the STC program. He wanted to know who funded Mangalbagh and who were in his Shura. He said Save the Children would request the Government of Pakistan to clear the area of extremists opposed to the program.
After a few meetings in Islamabad, Afridi said he was introduced by McGrath to an American woman called 'Kate'. Afridi assumed responsibility for various components of the Save the Children Prorgam including hepatitis which was on the rise in FATA. A vaccination program was launched in FATA which was very successful....
During the whole of 2010 he regularly met 'Kate'. Their meetings took place at a USAID warehouse the location of which Afridi did not know because he claimed he was always taken there in a vehicle with tinted glass windows."

Para 233 - "Only a fair trial based on due process can establish the extent and nature of his (Dr Shakeel Afridi's) involvement. While he should stand trial, convicting him on trumped up charges by a government-sponsored tribal jirga was not a proper course as it completely undermined the credibility of the country and its judicial process It was a travesty which allowed critics to argue the government had no real case against Afridi. The Commission, on the contrary, finally believes Afridi in fact has a case to answer.

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