The Abbottabad Commission Report has been resurrected. To argue that it is not to distract attention from the Quetta inquiry, but earnestly pursue real issues of security, would be to give the government massive benefit of the doubt.

Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan is getting the heat due to the Quetta commission which has led him to point fingers at the previous PPP government. The tactic is simple – remind the people and PPP that the current failings are nothing compared to what has happened in the past. Opposition Leader Khursheed Shah, not far behind in covering the muddy tracks, and has stated that PPP could not release it during its own time because of security concerns, but has now asked PML-N to do so.

While the official report has remained under wraps, the leaked version has already led to wild speculation. Based on the leaked version, the establishment is to blame for the security lapse during the Osama Bin Laden raid in Abbottabad, and it is for this reason that both the previous and the current government hesitated before releasing the contents of the report, and instead use it as a means to put the opposing party under pressure. However, what actually lies within the official report remains a mystery.

Why did the current government hesitate to release the report? Probably because the contents of the report could open up further problems vis a vis the security establishment. Calling out the law enforcement forces for failures of the past at a time when a new chief is looking to consolidate his power is perceived as a misstep at this early stage. It would necessitate a response against the civilian government, making the balance of power all the more tenuous.

No one, including the institutions involved in this delicate state of affairs, is completely in control. The institutions do not see eye to eye, or address issues directly when their feathers are ruffled, but instead choose to tip-toe around each other, until the hesitation turns into inaction. This is why PPP did not release this during its time in power, but is comfortable in asking PML-N to do so.

Ultimately, the public is denied their right to information and to hold those who failed them accountable. The idea that state institutions will be derailed or demoralised by problems should be cast aside. Accountability strengthens institutions and weakens personal power. Chaudhry Nisar’s reputation, and the slight he feels, is irrelevant to the larger goal of national security, and so is how any other player feels about any damning criticism in the report.

Suffice to say, the Abbottabad report should be made public, but it does not leave those who have been blamed for weak policy and security with regard to the Quetta carnage off the hook.