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Osama killing: Pak to set up new panel to probe US raid

Islamabad: Pakistan is set to appoint a new commission to ascertain "full facts" about Osama bin Laden`s presence in the country and probe the unilateral US raid that killed the al-Qaeda chief, as a panel constituted previously courted controversy even before it could begin its work.

Law Minister Maula Bakhsh Chandio said a new commission will soon be set to start the investigation. "Consultations are under way for the new panel," he told Dawn News channel last evening.

A previous panel appointed by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in late May faced controversy even before it could become operational, with the head of the commission and a member dropping out on the grounds that the government had not conducted consultations before naming them.

Gilani had formed a five-member commission to be headed by Supreme Court Justice Javed Iqbal, who said the Chief Justice was not consulted before he was named the chief of the panel.

Former Supreme Court judge Fakhruddin G Ibrahim, who was made a member of the Commission, too refused to be part of the panel.

Legal experts insisted that a judge cannot be made the head of an investigation panel unless permission is sought from the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Bar Association Chairperson Asma Jehangir had raised objections regarding the Commission and said the Chief Justice should have been informed prior to Iqbal`s nomination as the head of the body.

Opposition leader and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif asked the government to form an independent and powerful commission to expose all mysteries surrounding bin Laden`s presence in the country and the failure of intelligence agencies to detect the US military helicopters that participated in the raid against the al-Qaeda leader.

The unilateral US raid that killed bin Laden in the garrison city of Abbottabad on May 2 had sparked widespread protests across the country as the air force`s radar system did not detect the movement of the American helicopters that participated in the 40-minute operation.

Officials said the commission`s mandate includes establishing "the full facts" regarding Osama`s presence in Pakistan and details about the US incursion.

The commission will determine the nature, background and causes of lapses of authorities, if any. It will also make consequential recommendations.

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