The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave the government a four-week deadline to submit a progress report in the Army Public School Peshawar attack case.
Earlier today, Prime Minister Imran Khan appeared before the apex court after a three-judge bench — headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed, and comprising Justice Qazi Mohammad Amin Ahmed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan — summoned him in the APS attack suo motu case.
The premier, accompanied by Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid, appeared before the bench and briefed the apex court on the progress made in the case.
“We had a government in the province at that time and I immediately reached Peshawar,” Prime Minister Imran Khan told the court.
“What has the state has done to bring justice to the parents of the children?” CJP Gulzar further questioned. “I was not in the government then,” PM Imran replied.
To this, the CJP remarked that his government was now in power and what had they done to bring the criminals to justice?
“As per media reports, you are negotiating with those people [Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan],” Justice Qazi Amin asked the premier.
“Give me a chance to speak. I will explain everything one-by-one,” said the PM upon which the court replied, “We have nothing to do with your policy decisions,” maintained the CJP.
“We are asking why the culprits could not be brought to justice after so many years,” the CJP questioned.
We will take action if SC orders: PM
“According to the report, no measures have been taken,” said Ajazul Haq added. “Protection of the people is the responsibility of the state under the Constitution,” remarked CJP Gulzar.
In response, the premier said that 80,000 people were martyred in the war on terror.
“I had said at the time that this is America’s war, we should not interfere,” he said adding that Pakistan should have taken a neutral stance.
“We had nothing to do with 9/11. We did not know who was the friend, and who was the enemy?” the premier reiterated in the court.
“No need to go back in time,” said Justice Qazi Amin and added, “You are the prime minister and we respect you. Explain what steps have been taken so far after the tragedy?”
To this, the premier replied, “We made a National Action Plan (NAP) after the tragedy. We won the war because the whole nation stood with the Pakistan Army.”
“We have formed the National Intelligence Coordination Committee, which is looking into the matter,” claimed the PM.
“None of the names given by [the APS victims] parents are sacred cows. We will take action if the Supreme Court orders,” PM assured the top court.
SC adjourned the hearing for four weeks and directed the government to submit a report within the same period on the steps taken in the case.
Fawad, Rashid laud PM Imran for appearing before SC
Speaking to the media outside the court, Fawad Chaudhry and Sheikh Rashid lauded PM Imran for appearing before the apex court and said, “The prime minister has proved to what extent he goes for the rule of law and the court.”
“The premier reached the Supreme Court directly from his home in respect of the court,” said Fawad.
“PML-N was in the government when the APS happened. We could have accused them and held former premier Nawaz Sharif and the then interior minister responsible for it,” he added.
“Time was tensed at the time of the APS. Intelligence failures happen. Even 9/11 saw an intelligence failure, but then also eliminated terrorism from Pakistan. Today, normalcy has been restored in Pakistan only after the NAP and sacrifices of the Pakistan armed force and the Pakistani nation,” said Fawad.
Fawad also lauded the political leadership of Pakistan for showing maturity at the time of APS.
“Last three years of the PTI, have been the most peaceful years in the history of Pakistan,” he added.
Confirming the SC gave four weeks to the government to submit a report, Rashid said that the premier ensured the court that responsible persons would be brought to unmasked.
‘Is this the level of seriousness?’
Earlier during the hearing of the case, the chief justice inquired from Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan whether the premier had read the court’s previous orders wherein he had directed the AG to take action on the complaints of the aggrieved parents.
To this, the AG informed that the court order had not been sent to the prime minister.
“Is this the level of seriousness?” CJP Gulzar questioned and summoned the premier to attend the hearing.
In an apparent reference to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Justice Ahmed remarked that the government was holding dialogues with proscribed groups.
“Is it not the state’s job to bring the culprits to justice,” Justice Qazi asked.
He further remarked that action was only taken against the school officials and security but all high-ups were left off the hook.