By way of a 336 page document obtained and uploaded onto the Al-Jazeera website, amid complaints that the site was being blocked by internet service providers in Pakistan, Pakistanis gradually came to know of the astounding and absolutely merciless criticism by the Abbotabad Commission of high officials in government, military and the intelligence services. Having submitted the report in Junaury, the commission had recommended that its text be formally released by the state, to avoid it meeting the undocumented fate of other reports that have come before, containing important, introspective criticism of security failures.In a brutally honest appraisal, it presents a damning indictment of the performance of government institutions across the board: the political setup, the intelligence apparatus, the military establishment and the bureaucratic administration. It brought to sharp focus what everyone in these circles already knows and tries desperately hide from the taxpayer who employs them, that the cadres of all three wings are beset by “negligence, and incompetence.....(and) comprehensive failure”. As obviously evidenced by the unbelievable inability to detect the presence of Osama bin Laden in a town bristling with military personnel (Abbottabad is a cantonment and adjacent to it, Kakul, houses a military academy). The most wanted man in the world, pursued by all and sundry for masterminding 9/11 stayed on Pakistani soil for nine long years, spending the first two years at Haripur and then moving on to Abbottabad, being caught speeding, his wives enjoying the ability to travel across various parts of the country unimpeded. The findings of the commission are humiliating reading concerning the comprehensive and across the board intelligence failures that took place, leading to not just suspicion of state complicity in Osama Bin Laden’s safe sheltering, but also ultimately leading to the 2 May operation being conducted by the United States, undetected and uninvited on Pakistani soil. The responsibility for the first part, that is finding Osama Bin Laden, has been placed squarely with the ISI, and with it the blame for having utterly failed to do so. Complicity was entirely ruled out in favour of shocking incompetence; for the commission observed that it was incomprehensible that bin Laden could stay hidden without the knowledge of this all-pervasive agency. As Justice Javed told the media after Al-Jazeera leaked the sensational report, the commission had gone deep into the matter and pinpointed the failures of each institution involved and spared no one. It was absolutely essential that the report should have been made public when presented to then Prime Minister Pervaiz Ashraf. The report makes for encouraging reading in one aspect though, that the commission and its members had the bravery to pull no punches with any institution, no matter how powerful it was considered. It also contains valuable testimony from people such as the former intelligence chief General Pasha, who categorises Pakistan as a “failing state”. These are harsh and difficult words to swallow, but this is necessary and potentially life-giving introspection, which we must carry if we are to realize our mistakes and rectify them. Pakistan is not plagued by any mysterious problems – and all those in the higher echelons of power know it. The fact of the matter is that corruption, incompetence and institutional laziness and complacency has been the unglamorous, fatal cause of many of our problems. The Abbotabad Commission’s report ought to be enough to shock us into action to stop the rot. Unless the complacency runs so deep, that despite all that preceded it and led to such an inquiry being necessary, not even the crystal clear warnings and recommendations in the Abbotabad Commission will be heeded with any seriousness.