Why was Osama killing report not made public, asks daily

Islamabad, July 9 (IANS) Al Jazeera's release of the Abbottabad Commission report on the killing of Osama bin Laden is a "hugely damaging and embarrassing episode" in Pakistan's history. But why was the report, handed over to the prime minister in January, not made public, a leading daily has asked.

"It was, perhaps, inevitable: a high-profile report on a hugely damaging and embarrassing episode in the country's history was unlikely to remain shrouded in secrecy forever," the Dawn said in an editorial Tuesday.

The daily said a report on the events leading up to the secession of East Pakistan was suppressed by the Pakistan government "for decades", but "today there is no such luxury" in the era of WikiLeaks and whistleblowers.

"The age of excessive secrecy and the suppression of information that is of legitimate public interest has passed," it said.

After an Indian publication began publishing extracts from the report, Pakistan was "forced to do what they long avoided", publish the report, the daily said.

But, "why was the Abbottabad Commission report, handed over to (then) prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in January, not made public?" the daily asked.

The Dawn assumed that the "responsibility for the secrecy lay with the military".

It said Pakistan "focuses more on the embarrassment that will be caused nationally and internationally" by a comprehensive official account, and often "ends up compounding the original errors".

The daily said the approach is "always the same" whether it was "Kargil" or militant attacks on military bases -- "spill no secrets and promise that the necessary corrective measures have been taken, with no proof of whether that is the case or not".

The government's "version of 'trust us, guys' has only led to bigger mistakes".

"The fact that Osama bin Laden spent years in Pakistan undetected and that US troops were able to kill him on Pakistani soil and leave undetected is surely one of the more staggering national security lapses in the country's history," the daily said.

It said that now because the report was out and will be pored over nationally and internationally, there is still time for the government, and the army in particular, "to get at least one thing right" -- the government must officially release the report.

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