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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Pakistan Supreme Court grills PM Imran Khan in 2014 Army Public School massacre case

A total of 147 people, 132 of them children, were killed when Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants stormed Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar in 2014.

By: PTI | Islamabad |
November 10, 2021 5:00:05 pm
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. (AP/File)

Imran Khan on Wednesday faced a barrage of questions at a hearing of the 2014 terror attack on an Army-run school during which the Supreme Court bench asked the Pakistan prime minister why he was negotiating with the culprits of the massacre of nearly 150 people, mostly students.

A total of 147 people, 132 of them children, were killed when Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants stormed Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar in 2014.

The three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed, and comprising Justice Qazi Mohammad Amin Ahmed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan had summoned Khan around 10 am. He arrived at the court roughly two hours later, just before noon.

“The satisfaction of the parents [who lost their children in the APS attack] is necessary,” said Justice Ahsan addressing the premier.

The chief justice asked the prime minister to inform the court of the work being done by his government regarding the APS case, the Dawn newspaper reported. The chief justice told the prime minister that the parents of the APS victims were not seeking compensation from the government.

“Parents are asking where was the security system [that day]. Despite our comprehensive orders, nothing was done,” he said.

The prime minister told the chief justice that a National Action Plan was introduced after the APS massacre, adding that there is “no holy cow” in Pakistan, Geo News reported.

The bench said the government should listen to the parents of the APS schoolchildren and take action against the culprits. “The government should take action against those involved in the Army Public School massacre,” said the Supreme Court.

Khan assured the bench that the government will fulfil the requirements of justice. The apex court, in turn, directed the prime minister to ensure implementation of its October 20 verdict. The prime minister told the bench that he had met the parents of the deceased children before, adding that he would continue to do it in the future.

“Find out why 80,000 people were killed. Also, find out who is responsible for 480 drone attacks taking place in Pakistan,” Khan said.

“Finding out about these things is your job, you are the prime minister. As the prime minister, you should have the answer to these questions. You are the prime minister, you should have answers,” the chief justice responded.

“Khan told the Supreme Court judges that they can constitute a high-level commission on the APS tragedy.

“We have already formed a commission and it has issued a report as well. Our order of October 20 states clearly that the government should find out who is responsible for the massacre and take action against them,” responded the chief justice.

The chief justice reminded the prime minister that seven years had passed since the tragedy took place.

“Mr. Prime Minister, we are not a small country. We have the sixth largest army in the world,” said Justice Amin.

Justice Amin told the prime minister that he had now brought the culprits of the massacre to the negotiating table.

“Are we about to sign a surrender document once again? According to media reports, you are negotiating with these people,? Justice Amin was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune.

The government is in talks with the TTP over a “reconciliation process”, with Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry having announced on Monday that a “complete ceasefire” had been reached with the banned outfit. During the last hearing, the Supreme Court bench had directed the attorney general to inform the court about the steps taken by the government to redress the grievances of the parents of children martyred in the attack on APS on Dec 16, 2014.

In Wednesday’s hearing, the chief justice asked Attorney General (AG) Khalid Jawed Khan whether the prime minister had read the court’s order in which he had directed the attorney general to take action on the complaints of the victims’ parents.

The AG informed the court that the order had not been sent to the premier, adding that he would inform prime minister Khan about it.

“Is this the level of seriousness?” the chief justice asked. “Call the prime minister, we will talk to him ourselves. This cannot go on,” he added.

The attorney general, on behalf of the government, said that “we accept all our mistakes”.

The parents had demanded the registration of a first information report (FIR) against those civilian and military officials who, they believe, were responsible for security measures at the school, at the last hearing, the Dawn newspaper reported. During the proceedings on Wednesday, the attorney general said, “FIR could not be registered against higher-ups.”

“Where do the intelligence [agencies] disappear when it comes to the protection of their own citizens? “Was a case registered against the former army chief and others responsible?” the chief justice asked.

The attorney general replied that the inquiry report did not find anything related to the former army chief and former director-general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

At this, the chief justice remarked, “There is such a huge intelligence system in the country. Billions of rupees are spent on it. There is also a claim that we are the best intelligence agency in the world. So much is being spent on intelligence but the results are zero.”

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