Thank you Al-Jazeera, for making public the Abbottabad Commission Report. But for this (mercenary) scoop, we would have remained deprived of a remarkable account of our government’s follies and incompetence linked to the “May 2” Osama bin Laden episode.

Three hundred and thirty seven valuable pages, which the authors of the report have rightly called “A wake-up call”, demands a thorough analysis of our policies and practices, and in particular the dichotomies and inefficiencies that have characterised our civil and military performance, over the years.

While no names have been mentioned, the report calls for an “apology” from those responsible for the “national tragedy”. An apology may or may not come, but what must happen is an open admission of acts of omission and commission spelt out in the report and a rectification of the distorted systems and operating procedures.

It is imperative now for the new government to urgently seek to reconstruct intelligence and security institutions. There is the poor opinion held by the top brass about the civilian administration, political leaders, media and civil society, unabashedly highlighted of the ex-DG ISI, Lt Gen (retd) Shuja Pasha. Some of his observations: There is no culture of reading among the political leadership and no thinking process. They just are unable to formulate policy. The government never tasked the ISI to deal with central terrorism. The agency assumed this responsibility “in response to the dis-functionality of the prevailing system and ineffectiveness of other state organs.” Admitting that the ISI had arrested people without any legal authority, he justified the practice by accusing the police of leaking information provided to them. Pasha had a word for the role of journalists also. According to him, many of them were involved in the vilification campaign against the ISI, launched by USA; many were “heavily bribed with money, women and alcohol.” He said: “Nearly every one of our elite was purchasable.” He expressed his unhappiness with foreign funded NGOs by remarking that approximately 1,300 were working in Pakistan. The CIA had a nexus with many of them. He referred to Director CIA personally requesting him not to expose a particular NGO (Save the Children). He also revealed that the Haqqani Network was jointly created by CIA and ISI against the Soviet occupation. He further admitted that Musharraf completely caved in the American pressure and handed over the Shamsi base for drone attacks. He believed that the Abbottabad tragedy was the result of lack of capacity, inadequate knowledge and wrong attitude.

Lack of coordination amongst civil and military intelligence agencies has mostly been due to the military’s domination over the country’s affairs. For almost half of its history, Pakistan was controlled and run by the army. During the last five years of civilian government, however, the military kept away from politics although in foreign and defence matters, it has continued to play a decisive role.

The return of Nawaz Sharif at the helm of affairs is significant in many ways, including a move towards the desirable goal of civilian supremacy. The Abbottabad report provides a great opportunity to take steps to redress the balance.

The commission has specifically called for a shift in the civil-military equation. It is critical of the military’s hegemony. It has pointed out that designating any country as friendly or hostile was not the job of military men, but a prerogative of the elected leadership. It has also proposed the establishment of a national security council as part of the Prime Ministers’ Office to coordinate national security matters. The council should be headed by a National Security Adviser. Regarding coordination and accountability of intelligence agencies and formulation of a counter-terrorism policy, it has proposed establishment of an agency on the lines of the US Department of Homeland Security to synergise the working of main spy agencies.

The commission has underscored the importance of parliamentary oversight over the intelligence framework so that the spy agencies do not overstep their mandate. Excessive powers and non-accountability of the intelligence establishment poses a “greater threat of state failure to Pakistan.” The government, to the commission’s dismay, had left it to the US to deal with the external terrorist threat, while it relied on the ISI for taking care of terrorists inside the country. That, it said, had an “unfortunate history of instrumental and ideological association with militant religious groups.”

It has stressed the need for making the National Counter-Terrorism Authority - formed in 2009 - functional and referred to the reports of the ISI allegedly hindering it from assuming the central role in the fight against terrorism.

A valuable but under-reported contribution of the commission relates to its remarks about redefining the Pak-US ties. The commission declared that the May 2 raid was an act of war on Pakistan. It said that Pakistan reserved the right to stop cooperating with the CIA, unless it reviewed its attitude and that all high value targets caught in the country be tried, here, first.

The report talks about the role of Pakistan in the American war against al-Qaeda and the damage the country incurred in various ways. Says the report: “For its connivance in the illegal US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, Pakistan was duly rewarded in 2004 with the status of a major non-Nato ally and a substantial military and civilian assistance package. This soon led to a loose and largely unsupervised visa regime for the Americans, allowing the CIA to spread its tentacles throughout Pakistan.” The cost of such cooperation for Pakistan, however, has been substantial, both in terms of blood and economic burden, the report maintains: “Many tens of thousands of civilians’ lives and many thousands of military lives have been lost. Many hundreds of thousands of civilians were internally displaced from their homes by military operations. Similarly, US drone attacks have taken their toll of human lives, and have inflicted massive physical injury, property destruction, psychological trauma and political alienation in Pakistan.”

The commission has maintained that the US Embassy prima facie compromised the diplomatic norms and traditions through its activities. It has taken notice of the expansion of the US chancery in Islamabad, expressing the fear that this could pave the way for deeper US penetration. It has further observed that dismantling the CIA network and terrorist infrastructure in the country must become a rational priority.

The commission has called for a freeing of the Pak-US relations from “false assumptions”. According to it, Pakistan’s dependency on US economic military assistance and its contingent utility has broadly shaped the relationship. It is not rooted in a tradition of shared culture, political perceptions and strategic interest (except for brief durations of overlapping interests). The USA’s likely post-2014 policies in Afghanistan, the ‘very real’ threat of a war against Iran, its emerging hostility towards China and strategic partnership with India places definite and undeniable strategic limits on its relationship with Pakistan: “Once this is honestly accepted, a healthy and mutually beneficial bilateral relationship will become more feasible.”

Nawaz Sharif is well-advised to derive maximum mileage from the Abbottabad Commission Report and not only redesign civil-military relations, frame a counter-terrorism strategy and requisite mechanisms, but also reformulate US-Pakistan relations in the light of its findings, observations and recommendations.

The writer is an ex-federal secretary and ambassador, and a political and international relations analyst.