Osama probe commission runs into rough weather

Islamabad: A Pakistani commission to probe how Osama bin Laden managed to live undetected in the garrison city of Abbottabad has run into rough weather, days after its formation with one member refusing to join the panel and the opposition PML-N criticising the manner of its formation.

In keeping with a resolution passed by a joint session of parliament last month, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday announced the formation of a commission headed by a Supreme Court judge to ascertain the facts regarding bin Laden`s presence in Pakistan and investigate the US operation that killed the al-Qaeda leader on May 2.

Former Supreme Court judge Fakhruddin G Ibrahim, named by the premier as one of the members of the commission, has declined to join the panel on the ground that the government did not hold consultations with all stakeholders.

However, former Law Minister Babar Awan said Ibrahim had been consulted several times about joining the panel.

Main opposition PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif told reporters here that the government did not consult his party about the commission even though the parliamentary resolution clearly stated that the panel would be formed through consultations between the Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition.

Sharif, a two-time former premier, noted that a month had passed since the US raid that killed bin Laden but the government was yet to launch a probe to ascertain how the al-Qaeda chief had lived in Pakistan.

"I don`t know what the government is so busy with. It`s been a month since the incident occurred, a decision was made on constituting the commission but it has not been formed.

"What is the government afraid of? If someone`s secrets are about to be uncovered, let them be uncovered," Sharif said.

Reflecting the tensions between the government and the superior judiciary, an unnamed official of the Supreme Court told the media that the Chief Justice`s approval is mandatory for appointing an apex court judge as the head of the commission.

The official also said the premier had not consulted the Chief Justice in this regard.

The detection of the world`s most-wanted man in a compound located a few hundred metres from the elite Pakistan Military Academy had raised questions about the complicity or incompetence of the military.