Pak panel seeks access to Osama documents

Islamabad: A commission investigating Osama bin Laden`s presence in Pakistan and the covert US raid that killed him has asked the government to give it access to 187,000 documents, including diaries and letters, found at the slain al-Qaeda leader`s compound in Abbottabad. The commission intends to analyse these documents, which are being translated from Arabic by security agencies, before finalising its report.

The documents and some computer discs were found in a three-storey building in bin Laden`s compound after he was killed by US Special Forces on May 2, media reports said today. The commission believes these documents are in the custody of the ISI, the reports quoted sources as saying. The process of translating the Arabic documents has begun and might take two to three months to be completed.

The US Navy SEALs, who carried out the raid against bin Laden, had taken evidence and documents with them. The commission`s chief, former Supreme Court judge Javed Iqbal, told a news conference last month that the panel would complete its investigation in December but the body has been unable to stick to this deadline.

In a related development, London-based Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain has declined to appear before the commission to record his statement. "In response to an invitation of the commission for participation in a panel discussion held on December 13, Farooq Sattar, MQM`s deputy convener, has conveyed profound regret of Altaf Hussain for his inability to attend the discussion," an official announcement said. During a meeting on Tuesday, the commission recorded the statements of several senior journalists and columnists.