Osama raid a wake-up call: report

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ISLAMABAD: The Abbottabad Commission has called for strengthening democratic control of state institutions and civilian oversight over so far unaccountable security and intelligence agencies if a national embarrassment like the one caused by the US raid of May 2, 2011, is to be avoided. The commission, in the penultimate chapter of the 336-page report, made 32 wide ranging recommendations to address the issues identified during the course of its investigations and testimonies by key civilian and military functionaries. But strikingly, its suggestions repeatedly bemoaned “military hegemony” and emphasised on strengthening democracy.

Further intriguingly, the report comes at a time when rumours of cleavages between the newly elected government and the military establishment over the security situation in Balochistan are swirling around.

While it is said that the commission concluded that it was a collective failure at all levels of the government and a series of incidents of negligence and poor policy culminated in the May 2 incident, the report appeared to be quite categorical about whom it found to be responsible as it noted: “The failure was primarily an intelligence-security failure that was rooted in political irresponsibility and military exercise of authority and influence in policy and administrative areas for which it neither had constitutional or legal authority, nor the necessary expertise and competence.”

At another point in an oblique reference to the military and its spy agencies, it said systemic failure in the country was a “concrete outcome and product of acts of commission and omission of specific individuals and institutions, who usurp responsibilities that are not theirs”.

There were several references to frequent military interventions as the cause of national woes, and a warning that threat of revival of military’s “green book ideology” persisted despite the army having faded from the political scenario under Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. It further cautioned that without civilian control and democratic rule of law, May 2-like humiliations would continue to revisit the country and at some point threaten its very existence.

The commission was so particular about this core recommendation on civilian control that at one point it observed that “unless the larger picture is addressed specific measures that have been recommended will either not be taken, or if taken, would have negligible effect”.

The solution prescribed was that “all aspects of national policy must be formulated and implemented under representative civilian control, including defence and security policies”.