ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed the interior ministry to submit objections to a damning report on the Aug 8 Quetta carnage, but wondered why the ministry was being represented separately when it was part of the federal government.
On the other hand, the Balochistan government expressed its reservations over certain findings of the report but assured the court that it would implement recommendations of the Justice Qazi Faez Isa inquiry commission on the Aug 8 suicide attack on Quetta’s Civil Hospital in which at least 74 people, mostly lawyers, had lost their lives.
A three-judge SC bench headed by Justice Amir Hani Muslim had taken up the commission’s report which regretted a meeting Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had held on Oct 21, 2016, with Maulana Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, the head of three banned organisations — Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan, Millat-i-Islamia and Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat — to listen to the latter’s demands. The meeting took place in the Punjab House situated within Islamabad’s Red Zone.
“ATA (Anti-Terrorism Act) is equally applicable to public functionaries and they should not be cavorting with proclaimed members of banned organisations,” the commission said, adding that hypocrisy must stop. “There need to be a nationwide streamlining of national policy and all government servants need to abide by it, or face the consequences,” it said.
Additional Attorney General Mohammad Waqar Rana informed the court that he had to seek instructions from the federal government since the interior ministry intended to furnish its own objections to the commission’s report through counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan.
But the court said it could not understand why the interior ministry was being represented by a different lawyer instead of Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf who represented the federal government.
The court, however, asked the Attorney General to personally inform it on Feb 6 about the government’s intention vis-à-vis implementation of the commission’s recommendations.
Balochistan Inspector General Ahsan Mehboob regretted that he had been grilled by the commission for eight hours only to belittle him and questioned why only Balochistan, and not other provinces of the country, was being bracketed with security lapse.
“Even if we clamp complete curfew on Sariab Road — the main artery of Quetta — we cannot check terrorism till the time the ongoing insurgency in the province is dealt with politically,” he said, adding that police were already overburdened with their involvement in securing different roads in the city for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
He informed the court that senior police officers, including SSP, DSP and ASP, were under suspension for showing dereliction of duty in preventing the Oct 25, 2016, terrorist attack on a police training centre in Quetta and a recommendation had been sent to the federal government to terminate their service.
But the Balochistan High Court Bar Association, represented by Hamid Khan, disputed the IG’s statement and said the association was witness to the proceedings of the Quetta commission which afforded complete opportunity to him to explain his position.
Senior counsel Khawaja Haris, representing the Balochistan government, informed the court that the provincial government had objections to certain findings of the commission because some aspects of the report hurt it politically.
At this, Justice Muslim regretted that the provincial government considered the issue a political matter ignoring that a large number of lawyers had died in the Aug 8 suicide attack.
“Even we will not allow the federal government to give the issue a political colour,” the court observed. Supreme Court Bar Association President Rashid A. Rizvi requested the court to convert the commission’s recommendation into a judicial order so that it could be implemented.