Thursday, July 11, 2013

Karzai Spokesman Suggests U.S. Withdrawal Reports 'Pressure' Tactic

Afghan President Hamid Karzai's spokesman has dismissed a "New York Times" report claiming U.S. President Barack Obama is considering an expedited and complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan as a tactic "aimed at putting pressure on Afghanistan." Speaking to RFE/RL in Kabul, Aimal Faizi said that the "zero option" -- whereby there would be no U.S. troops left in Afghanistan after 2014 -- was never discussed with Kabul. "The complete withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan is an issue that has never been brought up in joint meetings between Kabul and Washington. The report in 'The New York Times' is aimed at putting pressure on Afghanistan and on public opinion in the country," Faizi said. "We have already put our conditions to the United States and have clearly told the United States that a final decision regarding the [U.S.-Afghan] security agreement will be made by the people of Afghanistan, and that is through a national jirga," he added, in a reference to the national parliament. "The New York Times" reported on July 8 that a June 27 video conference between Obama and Karzai aimed at lowering tensions "ended badly." The report said Karzai accused Washington of putting his government in danger by holding a separate peace with the Taliban and its Pakistani supporters. "The New York Times" added that since after the video conference, a complete pullout from Afghanistan like the one from Iraq has moved from a "worst-case scenario" to a likely choice "under serious consideration in Washington and Kabul."White House spokesman Jay Carney, however, said Obama was considering the "zero option." "The [zero] option has always been available and it is part of a process that is not focused on troop numbers but on policy objectives and how do we best do that. And part of how we best do that is, if we do decide to leave a residual force there in pursuit of these policy objectives, what kinds of agreements do we have with the Afghan government going forward with regards to that residual force," Carney told reporters in Washington on July 9. Senior current and former Afghan officials, however, have said that despite the disagreements between Washington and Kabul, a precipitous U.S. withdrawal is unlikely. Nasrullah Stanikzai, a former political aide to Karzai, said Kabul must pursue its own strategic and political interests in talks with Washington but tense relations between leaders of the two countries were not helping.Carney's comments come after reports on July 9 that the Taliban had temporarily closed its Doha office, where officials had hoped to resume Afghan peace talks. Taliban officials said the closure was to protest the removal of the Taliban flag and a nameplate with the movement's formal name, the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan." Karzai's government wanted such symbols removed, fearing they suggested the Taliban wanted to set up a government in exile. "We've seen the reports about the Doha office, and as President Karzai and President Obama said, the surest way to a stable unified Afghanistan is for Afghans to talk to Afghans," Carney said. "And it is up to the Taliban to decide if they are serious about negotiations."

No breakthrough in Afghan peace talks until 2015

The EU special envoy for Afghanistan Vygaudas Usackas on Wednesday said that the peace efforts between the Afghan government and Taliban militants group will not bear fruit until 2015, a year after US-led troops leave the country. While speaking during an open session of the Geneva Centre for security policy, Vygaudas Usackas said, “The European Union supports an Afghan-led dialogue on reconciliation. Whatever channels they choose is up to them.” Usackas further added that no breakthrough is expected in Afghan peace talks until 2015. The comments by EU special envoy for Afghanistan comes a day after Taliban militants group temporarily closed their newly opened office in Qatar, blaming “broken promises” by the Afghan government and United States. The Taliban political office was opened in Qatar on June 18 in a bid to accelerate potential peace talks with the Taliban group to end almost a decade old violence in the country. However Afghan president Hamid Karzai and Afghan high peace council boycotted the talks with the Taliban group and suspended talks on bilateral security agreement following the establishment of the Taliban office in Qatar, calling it a step to establish a paralell government in Afghanistan. In the meantime EU special envoy for Afghanistan Vygaudas Usackas said, “We’re watching the situation around the Doha office… We know that peace and reconciliation requires patience and consistency.”

Bomb kills two in northwest Pakistan

At least two people were killed and five others wounded on Thursday when a motorcycle bomb exploded at a roadside restaurant in northwest Pakistan, police said. The remotely detonated bomb exploded on the main highway between the towns of Kohat and Hangu in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which is rife with Taliban and al Qaeda led militancy."The motorcycle was parked at a roadside restaurant 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Kohat city. Two people were killed and five others wounded in the attack," Dilawar Khan Bangash, district police chief of Kohat, told AFP. "One person died at the spot while another died while being shifted to hospital," he said. Hospital officials confirmed receiving one dead body and five injured. "We received one dead body and five wounded from the blast site," Mohammed Shamshad, a doctor at Kohat's main hospital, told AFP. Police said the motive for the attack was not immediately clear. "The motorcycle carrying the bomb was parked close to a small mosque, built at the restaurant to facilitate customers for prayers. But, we don't know the reasons why and who managed this attack," said Bangash. Pakistani troops have been fighting for years against homegrown insurgents in the tribal belt, which Washington considers the main hub of Taliban and al Qaeda militants plotting attacks on the West and in Afghanistan.

Pakistan's bin Laden report could be a 'cover-up'

Experts say that a leaked Osama bin Laden report could be an attempt to cover up those in Pakistan who actually knew about the former al Qaeda head's whereabouts. A leaked bin Laden report has hugely embarrassed the Pakistani military and its intelligence agencies. Made public by the Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera on Monday, the Pakistani judicial commission reveals that collective failures, incompetency and negligence on part of the country's authorities allowed al Qaeda's former head Osama bin Laden to live in Pakistan undetected for more than nine years. The five-member Abbottabad Commission, headed by former Supreme Court judge Javed Iqbal, was set up by the previous Asif Ali Zardari-led government to investigate the circumstances leading up to the US covert raid in the northwestern Pakistani city of Abbottabad on May 2, 2011 where bin Laden was killed. The commission interviewed more than 200 people, including senior civilian and military officials, and also bin Laden's three widows, who were living with their husband in the compound. The findings of the report were kept secret until Al Jazeera published them. It is not clear who leaked the report.Pakistan's powerful military, which controls security-related policies, refused to comment on the leaked report - which did not accuse any person of complicity in protecting bin Laden - but it also did not rule out the possibility of a degree of "plausibly deniable" support from current or former officials. "It is unnecessary to specify the names as its obvious who they are," the 336-page classified document stated. "It may be politically unrealistic to suggest punishment for them […] But as honorable men, they ought to do the honorable thing, including submitting a formal apology to the nation for their dereliction." Intelligence expert and former high-ranking CIA and Pentagon official, Bruce Riedel, says the results of the Pakistani inquiry are very consistent with earlier reports based on American sources. "It does fill in a few important details like exactly when bin Laden moved to Abbottabad (August 2005) but it is most revealing in discussing the Pakistani side of the story."
Incompetence or complicity?
Some western analysts, however, are not ready to accept that Pakistan's ubiquitous security agencies were only "negligent" in failing to locate bin Laden's Abbottabad house. They think they were actually protecting him. Rolf Tophoven, director of the German-based Institute for Terrorism Research & Security Policy (IFTUS), regards the report as "an attempt to cover up those in Pakistan who actually knew about bin Laden's whereabouts and get them off the hook." The expert told DW that by claiming that the authorities were incompetent, the inquiry whitewashed those members of the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), who, he claims, knew that the al Qaeda founder was hiding in their country."The ISI isn't by far as negligent as the report claims it to be," Tophoven said. He believes the intelligence agency has always kept a close eye on events unfolding in Pakistan's northwestern tribal regions and is known to have had links to al Qaeda before the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US. It is precisely because of these connections and a lack of trust that Tophoven believes the US didn't inform Pakistani authorities about the impending raid on the residential compound in Abbottabad, not far from a military academy. "I believe they kept Pakistan in the dark until the operation was well underway because they were worried that bin Laden would be tipped off." This view is shared by intelligence expert Riedel: "Whether through incompetence or complicity, or more likely both, the Pakistani security establishment can not be trusted to fight al Qaeda. That is as true today as in 2011." Irrespective of that, most experts agree the leak is unlikely to have the slightest effect on US-Pakistani relations. "For the next 12 to 24 months, these relations will be dictated by the constraints of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan," said Frederic Grare from the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Impact on domestic politics
Grare, however, thinks that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's newly-elected government should consider this report a blessing. “It accuses the Pakistani security establishment of incompetence which contributes to delegitimize the same security establishment, reinforcing, at least temporarily, the hand of the civilians in their dealings with the military," said Grare. Michel Kugelman, a South Asia expert at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, agrees: "The harsh criticism toward the military leadership is arguably the biggest takeaway from this report. It is exceedingly rare for the security establishment to come in for such harsh treatment from within Pakistan."Kugelman points out that given the beating the military takes in the report, the new government will have "some added leverage should it choose to assert its independence from the military," particularly in the areas of security and foreign policy which are traditionally the domains of the military. But Pakistani analysts doubt that the Pakistani military or the ISI officials are going to apologize to the nation or that Prime Minister Sharif will take the institutions or the persons involved to task.
'It's time to rein in the military'
"It is a clear indictment of the military and its agencies," senior Pakistani journalist and political commentator Saleem Asmi told DW. However, Asmi thinks that Sharif is not powerful enough to try the generals over their alleged involvement in a case which has caused the Islamic Republic a great deal of humiliation. "It is high time that the civilian authorities assert themselves and rein in the military." Ghaffar Hussain, a London-based researcher and counter-terrorism expert, has a similar view. He told DW it was too early to expect that Sharif's government would confront the army. "He [Sharif] has just come to power. Though he has a strong political mandate, I don't think he would like to overstretch himself at the moment." Unlike other experts, Hussain believes it is wrong to assume that the Pakistani military is a monolithic institution. "Even within the military there are factions which are doing different things." Pakistani activists have demanded a reaction from the government and expect it to implement the report's recommendations.

Punjab: '' Female doctor assaulted by PML-N MPA ''

The Express Tribune
A Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) MPA Arif Sandheela allegedly physically assaulted a lady doctor Dr Sana Jabeen over disagreement during a routine visit at a hospital, Express News reported on Thursday. Although the DPO on site said that the police will start investigation in to the case once the lady doctor files a request, she has reportedly been taken to the district police station where she is being pressurised into a compromise. Dr Sana claimed the issue was regarding free medicines, even though the government does not provide them. According to her account, MPA Sandheela is known to frequent the clinic for free medication and has never purchased a required hospital ticket priced at Rs2. Eyewitnesses and colleagues testified that he has never purchased the required ticket. “He threw the mobile phone at my stomach and pushed me as well. If this can happen to an educated female doctor, it can happen to anyone. I request the chief of Punjab to remove this MPA from his post because he is harassing people”, she said while speaking to the media with teary eyes. “He always asks for free medicines though it is not his right. Even when he was not an MPA this was his behavior- now that he is a MPA, he blackmails me regarding my position”, she added. Eyewitnesses claimed that the MPA misbehaved with the lady doctor and was seen to be very angry. The lady doctor was seen crying after she had been slapped. According to reports, Arif Sandheela denied the incident and termed the allegations baseless. Sandheela said that the doctor is accusing him of the incident in hope of receiving a transfer. When contacted by Express News, he said he would get back with an answer however no word has been received yet.
Previously, another MPA from the same party received criticism in the media regarding a similar incident. Nighat Nasir Sheikh’s PML-N party membership was annulled on June 19 for harassing and slapping a bus hostess. According to reports, Sheikh had asked for water from a bus hostess; the hostess failed to serve water on time, which resulted in a quarrel. The annoyed MPA slapped the bus hostess in the face and harassed her. The driver of the private bus immediately took the bus to a police station and the passengers demanded legal action against the MPA in question.

Pakistan: After the leak, what next?

BY Mosharraf Zaidi
The Abbottabad Commission report is now in the public domain. Its authors, the members of the commission, should be seen as national heroes. The level of detail, the intricate analysis, the bold and fearless judgements and the searing truthfulness of the assessments in the report merit more than one reading of the report. It is a great report. So what happens next? The only way to answer that question is to examine what has been happening thus far. When PM Nawaz Sharif took office, it was obvious his priorities lay in addressing domestic economic and social concerns. Pakistan needs electricity and jobs. The PML-N government wants to deliver these things. A rare confluence of policy needs and political will. What could go wrong? As it turns out, plenty. For starters, the "extremist infrastructure" that the Abbottabad Commission report had recommended be "disbanded" is living la vida loca. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi enjoys virtual impunity to kill Hazara Shias as it pleases. The mischievously named Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which is actually just the Pakistani Al-Qaeda affiliate, has so much freedom that it advertises changes in personnel, as was evidenced by the appointment of a new spokesperson. I use the politically correct term spokesperson here out of habit and principle, as if there may one day be a female TTP spox. The situation is beyond absurd. This is a group that has declared war on Pakistan, declared war on the people of Pakistan, declared war on the constitution of Pakistan: the very constitution that declares, quite rightly, God Almighty, to be The Sovereign. And the national conversation has veered toward, "Why did the TTP change spokespersons?" Maybe it's because they know how easily manipulated and how keenly subservient our evening chatter can be? It would be cute to reference Kafka here, if it weren't for the thousands of body bags in which Pakistani mothers have welcomed home their solider sons, Pakistani wives have welcomed home their slain policeman husbands - all while the Pakistani government, including both civilian and military leadership, have presided over a rapid descent into complete state dysfunction. Hypernationalists get very upset with this kind of rhetoric. And of course, the term 'complete state dysfunction' is rhetorical. There isn't complete dysfunction yet. In his testimony, the Grand Mufti of Hypernationalist Pakistanis, Gen Shuja Pasha, says that Pakistan "is a failing state, if not yet a failed state". And if we examine the ways in which the state is not failing, it is easy to see. The lights are on in Bahria Town and DHA. They are off in Laalu Khet and Miranshah. The water in your tap could kill you, and that same water kills thousands of Pakistanis every year. Pakistan has a polio problem - one of only three countries on the planet with this problem. If you are in Lyari, duck. If you are in Fata, relocate. If you are in Islamabad, try not to vomit. Of course, the state still works for the District Management Group and the various ancillary civil service groups that have learnt how to compete for the spoils of maladministration. And, just to be entirely fair, let us also remember that the state works very well in Rawalpindi, in most cantonments, and save the frequent successful terrorist attacks, at our naval, air and army bases. Apologists of the military establishment will remind us that this is because the forces have discipline and integrity. But it sure doesn't hurt that they have most of the money, and all the guns (save the ones that terrorist Fedayeen attackers and the hordes of contractors like DynCorp, XE, and others have - all of whom entered Pakistan on the watch of the most patriotic Pakistani of us all, Gen Musharraf). If the tone of this piece seems intemperate, those capable of concentrating beyond the 12 minutes of uninterrupted analysis on television should try their reading skills on the Abbottabad Commission report. Nobody will accuse the report's authors of being anything other than faithful and patriotic Pakistanis. Well, maybe nobody. I am hesitant because I recall the blasphemy case on Akhtar Hameed Khan, the daylight assassination of Hakim Saeed and the regular attacks on the character and integrity of anyone that dares to express their intolerance for a Pakistan that fails to live up to even the most basic requirements of what Iqbal and Jinnah would expect. Nevertheless, Ambassador Ashraf Jahangir Qazi, Gen Nadeem Ahmed, IG Abbas Khan and Justice Javed Iqbal are not ordinary people. They have all been part of the broader Pakistani establishment, to varying degrees. That it is their steady and credible hands that have drafted the report is the best inoculation against the stupidity of large swathes of our TV-ratings-driven national conversation. Virtually every aspect of national public life gets brushed under the carpet in Pakistan. The Abbottabad Commission report essentially lifts the carpet that has carefully been laid over the country by myriad narrow private interests, all claiming to act in the greater good. No greater good could have been done by the commission than the report they have produced. The 337-page report is not difficult to read. But it will take time. You must read it. Someone – and I don't expect it will be the Ministry of Information (though it should be) – has to translate this report into Urdu. And then, someone should do an audio book of the report, and play it on the radio, over, and over, and over again. The words incompetence and negligence appear far more frequently than the word complicity. This is very likely the correct balance - though complicity cannot be rule out in getting Bin Laden into Pakistan, helping him move around over nine years and ensuring his safety in Abbottabad for the final six years of his life (all facts ascertained by the Abbottabad Commission). Nor can complicity be ruled out in the US Navy SEALs operation that killed him. We already know about Shakil Afridi - no doubt there were more. The question remains, what will happen next? If the recent past is any indicator, we can be assured, not very much. Consider the situation in foreign policy. PM Nawaz Sharif had known for many months that the PML-N would likely win the election. It is over a month since he took oath. Our embassy in Washington DC is still without an ambassador. Perhaps he has yet to find someone old enough for the job. Consider the response to the report by the previous government. Only two of 32 recommendations have been acted on. Neither will serve to fix anything that is broken. On the most important recommendations, there has been only silence. What should happen? PM Sharif needs to appoint at least three blue-ribbon commissions through an act of parliament. One of them must simply be a monitor for the implementation of the Abbottabad Commission report. The other two must deal with structural and across the board government reform (the first recommendation of the commission), and national security policy (the fourteenth recommendation of the commission). The leak of the Abbottabad Commission report could be a seminal moment in Pakistani history. But only if PM Sharif wants it to be. He's the boss.

Pakistan: First ever female Jirga formed

When 16-year-old Tahira was murdered in a horrific acid attack last year, her poverty-stricken parents got no justice. Pakistan officials slammed the door in their faces and the police refused to listen.
The prime suspect -- the girl's abusive husband -- lived in freedom until the case was taken up by Pakistan's first female jirga, a community assembly set up to win justice for women in the face of immense discrimination. Pakistan's northwestern Swat valley has become synonymous with abysmal women's rights. It was here that the Taliban shot schoolgirl activist Malala Yousafzai in the head last year. When the Taliban controlled Swat valley from 2007-09, girls were barred from going to school, their classrooms were burnt and women prevented from leaving the house without a male relative. Government writ was restored in 2009, but like much of the northwest, ancient mores and conservatism too often make women second-class citizens whose needs are subservient to those of men. Each time Tahira's mother, Jan Bano, climbs the steep hillside to her daughter's grave and down again, she feels dizzy and weak. She has high blood pressure and diabetes, and the stress of failing to get justice makes her condition worse. Tahira was married off at 12. In Pakistani villages and tribal communities it is still common for girls from poor families to be given to husbands at puberty. But her mother says she became concerned when her son-in-law, Subha Khan, started to beat and torture her daughter. It was he who poured acid on her and dumped her in a room to die, her mother says. Tahira's face was destroyed. So was her upper body. She screamed in agony for 14 days before she passed away, Bano said. But when they went to the police, officers did nothing. When her eldest son approached government officials to complain, Khan and his father threatened him with dire consequences. Then they were sent a message by the local jirga, a group of male tribal elders that functions as a decision-making council in Pashtun society, advising them to marry one of their sons to one of Khan's sisters by way of recompense for Tahira. Bano refused to do so and was still fuming when she heard that a group of female activists had set up a women's only jirga in Saidu Sharif, the twin town of Mingora, the largest city in Swat. "We're fed up with male-only jirgas which decide only in favour of men and sacrifice women for their own mistakes," said Tabbassum Adnan, 35, head of the 25-member jirga. "We simply can't leave women at the mercy of the male jirgas," she told AFP at the jirga's small office. Adnan raised Bano's case and organised protests demanding legal action against Tahira's husband in connection with her murder. Her efforts persuaded police to register a case against Khan but he has since gone on the run. Adnan has provided Bano with a lawyer to fight her daughter's case. Dissatisfaction with mainstream justice is common in Pakistan, where it can take years to process a case through the courts. Taliban insurgents were emboldened by complaints that the courts were too corrupt and too slow, and tribal jirgas present the most viable alternative. But they typically ignore or discriminate against women's rights. Women are often sold in marriage to seek forgiveness for men's crimes, their fates decided without consultation. Adnan says she first asked to join the main Swat Qaumi Aman Jirga to ensure justice for women, but they refused. "So, we have formed our own jirga now and we will decide cases involving women," she said, wearing a traditional black veil that covers her hair and body. "Our only aim is to provide legal support to women which we are doing by involving police and government authorities," she added. Adnan, who divorced her husband after 20 years of what she called a troubled marriage, said her jirga is called Khwaindo Tolana, which means "sister's group". It was born out of the result of a women's empowerment programme run by a local aid group. "The tremendous response by women motivated us to organise a separate jirga to fight for their rights," Adnan said. She claims to far have helped 11 women get justice. But the response from the men's jirga has been lukewarm at best. Ahmed Shah, a spokesman for Swat Qaumi Aman Jirga, confirmed to AFP that the women had tried to approach them, asking to join but he said this was "impossible" in Pashtun society. In private, many members of the male jirga dismiss the women's effort as ridiculous. The conviction rate is also so weak in Pakistan, which others say will limit the jirga's influence if its decisions are not enforced. But for Saima Anwar, who claims to be the first female lawyer to have practised in Swat, it is a vital first step. "This jirga is a good effort. It will provide women a platform and help them win their rights without fear or the interference of men," she said.

LAHORE: Consumers to face 10-hour loadshedding during Ramadan: LESCO
Lahore Electric Supply Company (LESCO) has issued a new schedule of power loadshedding for the holy month of Ramadan. Talking to Geo news following a meeting, LESCO Chief Engineer Muhammad Saleem said that the company has chalked out a new schedule according to which all domestic, commercial and industrial consumers would have to experience 10-hour long load shedding. He said that the consumers would be given relief during Sehar, Iftar and Taraweeh time while industries would face 10 consecutive hours of loadshedding from 6 PM to 4AM. The chief engineer further said that the LESCO is getting a quota of 2400 MW, adding that increase in quota may rise further relief.

The Abbottabad Commission: What Pakistan Must Learn After the bin Laden Raid

In 1971, Pakistan suffered its worst military defeat to India. The war led to the creation of an independent Bangladesh — what had been East Pakistan, separated from the western wing by a thousand miles of Indian territory, and home to half the country’s population. In what remained of Pakistan, the humiliation prompted furious questions about the cruelties inflicted on the local Bengali-speaking population, the intelligence failures and the abuses of power that had plunged the young country to its lowest point. To answer these questions, a high-powered commission was established. It was led by the Chief Justice of the time, Hamoodur Rahman, a distinguished Bengali jurist. He and his colleagues produced a searing report that recommended, among other things, trials for “those who indulged in these atrocities” and visited “acts of wanton cruelty” on the local population. But the report was suppressed. It only emerged in portions decades later, in 2000, in leaks to the local media. The Pakistani surrender at Dhaka was seen as the moment of the country’s greatest shame until the May 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Navy SEALs had successfully managed to penetrate Pakistani airspace, land in the garrisoned town of Abbottabad, kill the al-Qaeda leader and leave barely noticed. Pakistanis were angered by a violation of their sovereignty by an ally. And they were appalled that the world’s most wanted man had been living among them undetected for years. To find out what happened, Pakistan’s Parliament established another high-powered commission. It was partly inspired by the Hamoodur Rahman Commission that looked into the events of 1971. If it weren’t for a leak this week, their findings might also have remained suppressed for decades. On Monday, al-Jazeera published 336 pages( ) of the “Abbottabad Commission” report. Like its predecessor, it is a searing document. Shortly after it was published, the news channel’s website was blocked in Pakistan. There are some juicy details. Children, we learn, taunted bin Laden as the “poor uncle.” The al-Qaeda founder also decided to disguise himself by revealing more of his face. On one occasion, the police stopped a car that was carrying him in the Swat Valley — where 9/11 planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed visited bin Laden — only to fail to recognize “the tall clean-shaven Arab.” At other times, he dressed like the man who started the “war on terror” to get him, former U.S. President George W. Bush, by wearing a cowboy hat. Some of his associates were even unaware of who he was, until they saw him watching himself on al-Jazeera. The pan-Arab channel was apparently a favorite. Unable to get it through his cable subscription, the report says, bin Laden set up a satellite dish in his Abbottabad home. The property also had separate supplies of electricity and gas. In 2005, when an earthquake struck the area, the boundary wall of the compound lay collapsed in rubble for months, and yet bin Laden somehow managed to remain unexposed. As we find out, the property was bought through a fake identity card. The construction of a third story was illegal but went unchallenged. No tax was paid, and at one point, the heavily occupied house was even declared uninhabited. But it may have been more a case of serial snafus than sinister scheming, the report suggests. “Either OBL was extremely fortunate to not run into anyone committed to doing his job honestly,” the report notes, referring to bin Laden by his initials, “or there was a complete collapse of governance.” This sorry tale of Pakistan’s crumbling institutions is also told vividly by the local police’s failures. When the raid was happening, the report reveals, the provincial police chief’s only response was to sit at home and watch television. At one point, the commission encountered a bumbling Abbottabad-based criminal investigator with a weakness for conspiracy theories. The man swore that he was “100% sure” that bin Laden wasn’t present in the property, and in the next breath he says bin Laden could have been brought there as part of a “CIA plot.” The commission described the man as unprofessional and incompetent. But they also took pity on him, citing him as a product of the “degradation of the institution he represented.” Time and again, local security and administration officials said the Abbottabad area was known to be a sanctuary for militants and their families. And yet, there was no policy put in place to pursue them — or their leader, who had also traveled to nearby Haripur. “Their actual role in counterterrorism was at best marginal,” the report says, “and in the tracking of OBL it was precisely zero.” Some of the police officers simply shrugged that it wasn’t their job. The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency took responsibility for security matters. In a rare inside look at how the military spies operate, the report details the police and other officials being constantly shunted aside. The work of the commission itself was being tracked. At an invitation-only meeting with local journalists, one spy managed to inveigle entry, before being spotted and asked to leave. The report expresses deep concerns over the chance that rogue elements within the ISI abetted bin Laden during his stay in Pakistan. “The possibility of some such direct or indirect and ‘plausibly deniable’ support cannot be ruled out, at least, at some level outside formal structures of the intelligence establishment,” it reads. Elsewhere, it states: “In the premier intelligence institution, religiosity replaced accountability.” The lack of a coordinated strategy is said to be one of the reasons behind the failure to catch bin Laden. The local ISI commander told the commission that he had been searching the area for two years, and had snatched Umar Patek, one of the Bali bombers, who later told Indonesian authorities he had gone there to visit bin Laden. Another ISI team had caught Abu Faraj al-Libbi, another high-profile al-Qaeda leader. In one of its hardest-hitting passages, the report says: “It is a glaring testimony to the collective incompetence and negligence, at the very least, of the security and intelligence community in the Abbottabad area.” The ISI is chided for “closing the book” on bin Laden in 2005. The politicians fare little better. Some offer self-serving excuses for their failures; others, we are told, don’t even bother to read basic documents. The report’s authors — a serving Supreme Court judge, a retired army corps commander, a former envoy to Washington and New Delhi, and a retired top cop — described their report as neither a “witch hunt nor a whitewash.” Indeed, it is an admirable attempt at collective scrutiny. And the self-examination is painful. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is now faced with two clear choices. He can forget about the report, and shelve it alongside Rahman’s inquiry into the 1971 war, and let the state slide further toward failure. Or he can absorb the report’s contents and heed the clarion call for massive institutional reform. Rather than worrying about the source of the leak — Islamabad’s initial response — the government should read the report and act on it.

Malala Yousafzai will celebrate her sweet 16 by addressing the UN

Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai, then 15, was shot in the head by the Taliban while returning home from school. Miraculously, she survived, and on Friday, Malala (as she's known worldwide) turns 16. To celebrate, she will deliver the keynote speech to the United Nations about the importance of education as a universal right, particularly for girls around the world. She will be joined by students from more than 80 countries. "Nowhere in the world should it be an act of bravery for an adult to teach or a girl to go to school," said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Malala has been nominated for the International Children's Peace Prize and is the youngest person ever to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize