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HindustanTimes Fri,01 Aug 2014

India-specific plan put Pakistan security at risk: Abbottabad panel

Sanjib Kr Baruah, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 09, 2013
First Published: 22:33 IST(9/7/2013) | Last Updated: 01:45 IST(10/7/2013)

A never changing India-centric Pakistani defence policy focussed only on its eastern front with India, ignoring developments along its western front, put Pakistan's defence and security architecture in peril, findings of the leaked Abbottabad Commission report said.

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The Commission was set up by the Pakistani government to look and identify the serious lapses that endangered Pakistani sovereignty when on the night of May 1, 2011, US air-borne commandos flew 100 km inside Pakistani to Abbottabad, slithered down onto fugitive al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden's lair, killing him and four others before flying back to safety in Afghanistan.

From July 11, 2011 to May 25, 2012, the Commission examined 201 witnesses including four federal and provincial ministers, 11 top ISI officials, 35 top bureaucrats, etc.

"From a Pakistani strategic doctrine point of view, the world stood still for a decade...despite a growing American threat including actual border raids, drone strikes, special operations, the spread of a hostile spy network, public and private warnings of the limits of American patience with Pakistan's alleged support for militants attacking American soldiers in Afghanistan etc... all this was systematically ignored or discounted even when explicit threats were communicated by President Obama," the report said.

"So India and not the US remained the focus of our security planning even when the western border had become far more immediately threatening than the eastern border," it said.

"Needless to say, the eastern front deserved the necessary security attention in view of the history of the state of Pak-India relations --- but it should never have been at the expense of the far more immediate, if lesser threat that had emerged on the west," the report added.

The Commission has been scathing in its verdict of the Pakistani government's institutional inability and "culpable negligence and incompetence" in detecting bin Laden who had been living in the country for nearly a decade before he was killed or the manner in which US carried out the stealth operation in total secrecy and avoiding detection inside Pakistani airspace.

Meanwhile, media quoted Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal who headed the Commission as saying that the foreign media reports were "baseless and misleading". He added that while the Commission report contains more than 100 recommendations, the foreign media failed to highlight even one of those.

Pakistani security had glossed over sure-shot trails of bin Laden. Thinking him to be dead, the ISI had closed its file on bin Laden in 2005, despite his audio message broadcast in January 2011 on the release of two French hostages in Afghanistan with voice analyses also ensuring them to be authentic.

Additionally, Abbottabad was also the site of the arrest of at least two senior al Qaida leaders. Al Qaida number three Abu Faraj-al-Libbi was arrested in a place not far from bin Laden's compound. Another top leader Umar Patek (an Indonesian, he is also known as the Bali bomber) was arrested by the ISI on January 25, 2011 in Abbottabad.


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