A couple news agencies released leaked copies today of the Abbottabad Commission Report, the Pakistani government’s investigation into the May 2 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound. The report is scathing. It slams the Pakistani government on two fronts: for allowing an international fugitive to hide, ostensibly without anyone knowing, in Pakistani territory for nine years, and for allowing the US to conduct the raid without any defense or retaliation.
The report, available here in full, attributes bin Laden’s ability to escape detection to the government’s “gross incompetence,” and finds that the “collective failure” of the military and intelligence agencies allowed the US to carry out an “act of war”: “Culpable negligence and incompetence at almost all levels of government can more or less be conclusively established….this [was] a case of nothing less than a collective and sustained dereliction of duty by the political, military and intelligence leadership of the country.”
Among its recommendations, which include police reforms and increased intelligence cooperation, the report also seems to focus heavily on preventing the US from conducting another deadly raid on Pakistani soil. “The alarming expansion and reconstruction of the US Embassy in Islamabad may pave the way for deeper US penetration in Pakistan,” the report reads. It urges a fundamental rethink in the relationship between the two countries:
The false pretence of a ‘strategic’ relationship is to perpetrate a deception upon the people of Pakistan. The simple truth is that there is little agreement between the US and Pakistan with regard to all of Pakistan’s neighbours, including China, Afghanistan, Iran and India. The same is true for the Middle East. And it is most true of the so-called war on terror including the kinetic and illegal strategies the US has adopted towards Pakistan itself, of which the May 2 ‘incident’ was an important instance.
The report also notes several incidents that helped deteriorate the relationship between the US and Pakistan prior to the Abbottabad raid, including the killing of two Pakistani citizens by Raymond Allen Davis, a CIA contractor, on January 27, 2011. The US initially tried to give Davis diplomatic cover by saying he was employed by the American consulate in Lahore, but the Pakistanis locked him up. Then the ISI and the CIA struck a deal to whisk him out of the country, which provoked outrage and protests and fueled anti-American anger among ordinary Pakistanis. As Mark Mazetti wrote in the New York Times, the episode “extinguished any lingering productive relations between the United States and Pakistan.” Davis remains a “boogeyman” in Pakistan, “an American killer lurking in the subconscious of a deeply insecure nation.”
It is not all that surprising that much of the blame for the bin Laden killing is placed on the United States in the Abbottabad Commission Report, and that many of the recommendations focus on reforming that relationship and scrutinizing the Americans who are allowed to enter the country. Pakistan’s government remains deeply suspicious of Washington, insecure and embarrassed by its military’s reliance on American money. For now, Pakistan and the US will continue to rely on each other. But there is deep distrust on both sides, and as international troops withdraw from Afghanistan, deep-seated anger and clashing priorities will soon be making their way into the limelight.
[Osama bin Laden's Abbottabad compound photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]