No witnesses appear before Abbotabad panel

August 6th, 2011 - 6:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Yousuf Raza Gilani Islamabad, Aug 6 (IANS) A high level commission, set up by the Pakistan government to probe the presence of Al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad and the American raid in which he was killed May 2, has not seen a single witness come forward, a media report said.

As soon as the panel, headed by a Supreme Court judge, was formed, it published advertisements in several newspapers, appealing to anyone with knowledge of the happenings of May 2 (the US raid and killing of Bin Laden) to contact it by July 31, the Urdu daily Jang reported Saturday.

Despite providing special phone numbers to call and the commission’s assurance that the identity of the witnesses will be kept confidential, not one person approached or shared any information with the commission till July 31, the Jang reported, citing an official privy to the panel’s working.

Officials connected with the commission had termed this lack of witnesses as a “major setback” since it was also relying on information from the general public, and thought it would lead to officials approaching it surreptitiously to volunteer inside information about the happenings.

Constituted by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani June 1, the commission is headed by Supreme Court Justice Javed Iqbal. It also includes Justice Fakhr-ud-din G. Ibrahim, Lt. Gen. (Retd) Nadeem Ahmed, former police official Abbas Khan and Ashraf Jahangir Qazi, a former ambassador.

Osama was gunned down by US commandos who stormed his high-walled hideout in Abbottabad. The incident has strained ties between Islamabad and Washington.

Mandated to ascertain the full facts regarding Osama’s presence in Pakistan, the panel was also to investigate the circumstances and facts regarding the US operation in Abbottabad and also determine the nature, background and causes of lapses of the authorities concerned.

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