ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan has expressed concern over the government’s ongoing talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and questioned what action has been taken on the killing of seven policemen in Sadhoki.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, a day ago (Monday) told the press that the government is in talks with the TTP over a “reconciliation process”, and that a “complete ceasefire” had been reached with the banned outfit.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed on Wednesday heard the petitions of the parents and the family members of the children martyred in the Army Public School (APS) Peshawar tragic incident.

During the proceeding, Justice Amin said; “We have the sixth largest army in the world. We are bringing them [the TTP] back to the negotiating table instead of taking action against them.” Are we going to surrender once again, he inquired from Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Prime Minister Khan, who was summoned by the bench in the APS case, appeared before the court on a short notice. In his statement, he told the bench that the State shall ensure that proper justice is provided to the victims’ families and in doing so those people responsible and those who failed to perform their duties will be taken to task and dealt with in accordance with the law.

Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Jawed Khan stated that the State shall ensure in dealing with all the culprits and all those who have not performed their duties.

The court order stated that the mothers and the parents of the children, who had died in the APS attack, have squarely blamed the persons named in the Supreme Court order dated 20 October 2021 for dereliction of their duties and not performing them.

The federal government listened to the stance of the victims’ parents, saying action should be taken against anyone whose negligence was proven, and in doing so, the children’s parents be associated. The exercise will be done in four weeks and the report signed by the prime minister shall be placed before the Court on the next date.

Prime Minister Khan told the bench that he believes in the rule of law, adding “there is no holy cow and no one is above the law”. He asked the bench if they (the judges) pass an order [for the registration of FIRs] he will follow it. “My job is to implement the apex court’s order,” he added.

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The AGP, who was standing with the prime minister on the rostrum, asked the bench for constituting a high-powered commission. He said it would have been “very easy” to register a case against the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif and the then interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.

Justice Ijaz said it is not their concern whether the government register FIRs or not. He asked the AGP that the government should fix the responsibility, adding, if the responsibility is determined then it will appease the public. “This will be more than registering the FIRs.”

In the last hearing, the court ordered to take instruction from the federal government on the complaints of the mothers of APS martyrs, that the FIR be registered against the then Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, the then interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the then chief minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Pervez Khattak, the then Corps Command Peshawar Hidayatur Rehman, the then Secretary Interior, Islamabad Akhtar Ali Shah, the then Director General ISI Lt-General Zaheerul Islam.

Justice Qazi Ameen said that in developed countries, the people at the helm of affairs resign on the ground of moral responsibility. But this is not the culture in our country, he added. After the APS, the civil and military leadership should have resigned on the moral ground.

The attorney general said Nawaz Sharif should have resigned in the aftermath of the incident. “We are willing form a forum at the highest level to scrutinise and examine each aspect of the incident.”

The chief justice said there is already a report on the tragic incident. You have to take the decision.

The chief justice inquired from Prime Minister Imran to tell what the government is doing for the protection of the people in Waziristan and the tribal areas, adding the Constitution guarantees security to every citizen.

The premier said when that incident took place at that time, the PTI had a government only in the KP, adding the same day he went to the KP and saw horrific scenes, children were lying in pool of blood, and many children were injured. The parents and family members of the children were in shock and traumatised. He said whatever the provincial government could do, it did and paid compensation to the heirs. He said: We should also think about 80,000 people killed as result of the war on terror.

The chief justice told him that you are in the government and if you want to uncover those responsible for the attack then no one will stop you. “The history is full of such incidents and you will find many trials.”

The chief justice said that the mothers of the martyrs in the last hearing said that they do not want compensation, but the registration of cases against those who were at the helm of affairs at that time.

APS Peshawar tragedy: SC asks govt to redress grievances of martyrs’ families

“Where is the State, what the security forces were doing to help and avert the attack? Nothing happened in the last seven years,” said the chief justice. He further stated that in the last hearing specific order was given. “You (Imran) are in power, bring the assassins to task.”

The court observed that the then army chief and the ISI chief were the wheeler and dealer. He said these officers retired from their service with perks and privileges. “They were the first to be held accountable. “Whether any step was taken to stop the madness? They are enjoying life and perks and privileges and were given guard of honour on their retirement.”

Justice Ijazul Ahsan said there was a security lapse on the part of the intelligence agencies, there was an intelligence failure. No step was taken to anticipate and avert the attack. These were the steps that should have been taken at the highest level. He inquired from the PM what steps were taken by the government (PTI) for the protection of the people from terrorist attacks. He said those responsible for the failing to perform their duties should be identified.

Prime Minister Khan requested the bench to give him a chance to speak so he could brief the Court. He said 80,000 people have been killed in terrorist attacks. He said the attorney general gave him a report that there was a moral responsibility of these people (officials at the helm during the APS tragedy), adding that the FIRs cannot be registered on moral ground. He said General Pervez Musharraf got Pakistan involved in the war which was not ours. Due to that the terrorists launch attacks in the country. The PM informed; “Due to our planning the suicide attacks have been minimised.”

Justice Qazi Ameen asked the prime minister to “please, be specific”. He asked the prime minister to tell what action the government has taken about the killing of nine policemen in Sadhoki in clashes with the TLP protesters. “You are in the Prime Minister House,” he added.

Imran Khan said that after the APS tragic incident, all the political parties met and agreed on a National Action Plan. “Our government has improved the National Action Plan, and set up a National Intelligence Coordination Committee, due to that many attacks could be avoided.”

The chief justice asked why despite these efforts people are still not safe. Justice Ijaz said: We understand the problems of the government, but you have to take preventive measures. There has been an act of omission, dereliction of duty and negligence on the part of the security apparatus. You have to take some action. If the responsibility is fixed, then it might satisfy the parents.

At the onset of the hearing, the attorney general asked the bench to set up a high-powered commission.

Amanullah Kanrani, former president Supreme Court Bar Association, said that the State is responsible to address the concerns of the parents of the children martyred in the APS incident. He said the State has signed an agreement with the TLP.

APS attack was the result of a massive security failure, claims inquiry report

The chief justice, after hearing the contentions of the AGP and Kanrani, said why not summon the prime minister? He asked the attorney general to convey the court order to appear before the bench after the break.

When the bench assembled after the interval, the chief justice inquired “has he (the prime minister) come”.

Additional Attorney General (AAG) Sajid Illyas Bhatti informed that he is coming.

Prime Minister Imran Khan along with his Military Secretary, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed, and PTI leaders, Ali Zaidi, Shahbaz Gill, and Farruk Habib entered the Courtroom No1, at 11:40am.

The chief justice, after asking the premier to come to the rostrum said that at APS, a gruesome incident took place in 2014 and seven years have already lapsed.

He inquired what the government did to identify the people who are responsible for the policy matters and were at the helm of affairs, adding, “nothing”.

The case was adjourned for four weeks.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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