Pak on high alert, fear Osama death anniversary

Islamabad: Pakistani security forces were on high alert today to thwart any possible attacks by militants to mark the first anniversary of Osama bin Laden`s killing in a unilateral raid by the US in the garrison town of Abbottabad. Last year, the Taliban had carried out a series of revenge attacks that included a suicide bombing on a police training centre that killed nearly 100 people.

Various embassies here have issued warnings, advising its citizens to avoid public places. The US embassy has restricted its staff from going to restaurants and markets until May 5. Relations between Islamabad and Washington are yet to recover from the crisis caused by the raid against the world`s most wanted man, who was living in a compound a short distance from the elite Pakistan Military Academy.

The US operation humiliated and embarrassed Pakistan`s powerful security establishment, which faced criticism for its failure to detect then al-Qaeda chief bin Laden`s presence. Bin Laden`s compound was demolished in February while his three widows and several children were deported to Saudi Arabia last month. However, Pakistan continues to be accused of sheltering several most wanted terror suspects.

Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden`s successor, and Mullah Mohammad Omar, the supreme commander of the Afghan Taliban, are suspected to be in Pakistan. Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the dreaded Haqqani network blamed for last month`s attacks on Western targets in Kabul, too is based in the Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

Last month, the US offered a 10-million dollar bounty for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba who is accused of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks. In a related development, the judicial commission probing bin Laden`s presence in Pakistan today announced that "no institution or individual has been held responsible so far" by the panel.

A spokesperson for the commission expressed serious concern at "baseless and concocted" reports in the media regarding the panel`s report. The report is in its final stages and will be finalised this month, the spokesperson said. "The report will be finalised on May 21 and will be submitted to (Supreme Court) Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry within a week… most probably this month," the spokesperson said.