Strategic assets safe, Osama commission told
ISLAMABAD: The commission investigating the May 2 US raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad was assured on Saturday that the country’s strategic assets were well protected and an elaborate defence mechanism was in place.
Defence Secretary Lt-Gen (retd) Syed Athar Ali informed the commission that no government department had ever considered the United States or Afghanistan as a direct threat to Pakistan.
The four-member inquiry commission, headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal, comprises former NDMA chairman Lt-Gen (retd) Nadeem Ahmed, a former inspector general of police Abbas Khan and a former ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi. Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi is its secretary.
The terms of reference of the commission are: (a) to ascertain full facts regarding the presence of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan for such a long time; (b) investigate circumstances and facts regarding the May 2 US operation; (c) determine the nature, background and causes of lapses of authorities concerned, if any; and (d) make consequential recommendations.
Deputy Chief of the Air Staff (Operations) Air Marshal Mohammad Hassan had informed the commission early last month that the Pakistan Air force had taken adequate operational measures immediately after learning about the US storming as per the standard procedures (SoP).
Earlier a scheduled meeting of the commission called on July 31 to ascertain whether the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was aware of the US raid could not take place because of non-availability of the agency’s Director General Maj-Gen Shuja Pasha.
On Saturday, the defence secretary highlighted the salient features of the defence policy approved by the defence committee of the cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. He said the policy empowered the joint staff headquarters (JSHQ) to formulate a joint strategic directive (JSD).
The last JSD issued in 2007 after an extensive debate within the armed forces acts as a main document for the armed forces. It spells out about their composition, structuring, development plans, training methodology and employment strategy. The JSD also issues specific instructions to the armed forces to prepare for countering the identified threats.
The commission said the May 2 incident had left a deep imprint on the nation in general and the armed forces in particular.
The defence secretary assured the commission that the armed forces were now better prepared to respond to any such recurrence as adequate safeguards had been taken.