Supreme Court orders govt to take 'definite action' over APS tragedy
Asks govt to prepare report in collaboration with relatives of APS martyrs: Orders to submit report in four weeks: Says APS tragedy failure of our intelligence: Wonders if govt going to sign another surrender document with militants: PM Imran Khan assures full cooperation: Says there is no sacred cow in country: Maintains if SC orders, govt will act
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmad and comprised of Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Amin Qazi was hearing the APS bloodbath case in Islamabad. The Supreme Court took suo motu notice of the incident.
The Supreme Court ordered the government to prepare a report in collaboration with the relatives of the APS martyrs and submit it within four weeks. It asked the government to take positive and definitive action against the perpetrators of the terror act.
While answering judges’ questions, Prime Minister Khan said when the Army Public School carnage took place in 2014, the PTI was having its government in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. He said he called his party’s meeting that very night when the tragedy unfolded. It was a very tragic incident.
Justice Ahsan remarked that it was necessary to console the grieving parents. They want action against the high ups, responsible for the security gap, he added.
“Let me explain, Mr Justice! We have lost more than 80,000 lives in terrorism,” the premier added.
PM said that his government had improved the national action plan. He said it was his government which had established the first intelligence coordination committee. In this committee, all intelligence agencies are included, he explained.
He said many activists of Daesh, TTP and Baloch separatists had entered the country. He said we had nothing to do with Osama bin Laden, Afghanistan and nine-eleven, but we were made part of the terrorism war. Every day, suicide attacks were launched against us. But we have won this war, he added.
Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmad cut the PM short saying “we know all these things. Just enlighten the court what action was taken against the responsible persons.”
PM Khan told the court that the PTI was not ruling in the Centre at that time. It was ruling only in the KP and his party held meetings with the heirs of the martyrs, he added.
The CJP remarked that parents did not want compensation, they wanted their children.
Justice Amin remarked “leave everything else aside and tell us how many people have been apprehended in this connection.”
The CJP said the court had nothing to do with the government policies. After a passage of so many years, why the government did not hunt down the culprits, he asked the PM.
The premier assured the court that his government would fulfil all the requirements of justice.
“There is no sacred cow in the country. If you order, we will take action. We are ready to take action. But it is not possible to register an FIR on the mere grounds of moral responsibility,” PM Khan maintained.
Justice Ahsan said that the court had provided names of those responsible for the APS tragedy to the government. He said the court had directed the AGP to consult the high level committee in this regard. He said the court just wanted to tell the parents of the martyred children that the courts and government had not forgotten their loss. We just want assurance from the PM that he will take action, he added.
It’s interesting while going to the courtroom, a journalist asked PM Khan what would be his response on the APS tragedy in the Supreme Court and whether his government would file cases against ex-army chief and ISI DG. The premier retorted he would answer what the court would ask him.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmad said that the court would talk to the prime minister and asked him about the progress in the case. The CJP asked the attorney general of Pakistan (AGP) if Prime Minister Khan had read the court order. On which the AGP told the court that he did not send the notice to the prime minister.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan said that the APS bloodbath was a setback for the whole nation. Our children were massacred mercilessly, he remarked.
The CJP wondered where our intelligence agency which is regarded number one in the world got vanished when it’s a matter of our own people’s security. He said we had a huge intelligence system on which billions of rupees were being spent.
The CJP said the APS tragedy was the failure of our intelligence.
The CJP asked the attorney general of Pakistan had the government registered any case against the ex-army chief and other people responsible for the security lapse that led to the occurrence of the APS tragedy.
On this, the AGP told the court that there was no finding in the inquiry report against the former chief of army staff and ISI director general.
During the hearing, the subject of government’s talks with the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) was also discussed.
Justice Qazi Amin said that there was news roaming around that the state was holding parleys with some (Taliban) group. “Is the government going to sign another surrender document”, he asked.
“Isn’t it the job of the government to hunt down the real culprits and arrest them,” he added.
The chief justice said that we could not let our children die in schools. He stated that action was only taken against the watchmen and police officials. But the real action should be taken and started from the top, the CJP observed adding that the people who work on the upper cadres get their salaries and benefits, and they walk away.
Justice Ahsan said that it was not possible that the APS terrorists could not have a support from inside.
Moreover, the apex court also directed that the reply given by the Centre to the inquiry report must be shared with the people.
Appointing Amanullah Kanrani as amicus curiae to assist the court in the matter, the court said that the government should formulate a line of action on the basis of inquiry report with a strict action taken against the responsible persons. Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed said the country had been facing a dilemma that the lower-level officials were removed in the case of every disaster.
“Action is not taken against the higher-level people,” the chief justice remarked. “Why are you running such a big country and system if the people are not safe,” he observed as further hearing of the case was adjourned for a month.
It had taken suo motu notice on complaints of the parents of the martyred children that the real culprits involved in the gruesome incident on December 16, 2014 had not yet been arrested by the authorities.
On Oct 5, 2018, former chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar had constituted the judicial commission and asked Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth to nominate a senior judge for the purpose.
Justice Mohammad Ibrahim of the Peshawar High Court had presided over the commission which prepared a 3,000-page report after recording the statements of around 132 people, including 101 witnesses, 31 policemen, army personnel and other officers, as well as the parents of the martyred children.
According to the inquiry report, the security personnel did not have the capability to thwart such a terrorist strike. The report said that the three security layers – guards stationed at the gate, police patrolling the area and the Quick Response Force available within 10 minutes – had shifted their focus to the smoke blowing out of the vehicle that was set on fire as part of the plan.
As a result, the security’s attention diverted from the APS and the terrorists managed to enter the school, it added.
The court adjourned hearing of the case for four weeks.
Reporters Amanat Gishkori, Gohar Mehsood