Saturday, 19 September, 2020
December- The month of tragedies

December- The month of tragedies

Zaki Abbas

The month of December reminds us of tragic incidents ever happened in the history of Pakistan, either it is Fall of Dhakka, or Army Public School, (APS) Peshawar carnage.

Moreover, all these tragedies also reminds us of our inability to handle crisis situation as everyone from top to bottom in government, administration and judiciary understands the fact that any such incident of massive impact never happens in a day and is also an outcome of our collective neglect.

Although, there are always number of factors including external interference are involved in these tragedies. Alas! Non-seriousness and collective neglect of our strategic institutions, not coming up with a sound strategic approach to avoid any such fiasco and not learning from the previous grave incidents are the key reasons of these tragedies.

Even though, it is earlier to comment but is expected that APS judicial inquiry report would meet the same fate as of hamood-ur-rehman commission report setup by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the then President of Pakistan to know about the reasons of liberation of East-Pakistan and signing of the instrument of surrender.

The judicial inquiry started after almost four-year of the incident when representatives of APS Martyrs Forum called on the then Chief Justice Saqib Nisar on his visit to the Supreme Court’s Peshawar registry and requested him to ensure that the government should punish all culprits of the incident, who have either killed or failed to protect their school going children.

The APS attack is termed as fourth deadliest school attacks in the world in which over 147 people, including 132 students of age 8-18 years, were martyred by six militants of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The militants stormed the school with heavy ammunition including automatic weapons and grenades. The militants were instructed by their handlers from outside via communication devices. While, the counter attack on terrorists was started within 15-20 minutes, saving over 900 lives and killing of all attackers within premises of the school by special services group (SSG) forces. The SSG forces entered the school premises in their armored vehicles and trucks from two sides and engaged the militants instantaneously.

After the arrival of the SSG forces, the intruders moved to the administration block and make students as their hostage. One of the invaders was shot down near the auditorium, the other by a sniper through a window in administration block and rest of the five were also killed in the administration block, injuring seven commandos of SSG including two officers.

Still the incident of mega threshold questions itself over the failure of law enforcement agencies, civil-military administration and school management. The eye-witnesses and officials also reported that the militants wanted kill as many students as possible and also forced students to watch their teachers killed brutally.

Afterwards, the government lifted its moratorium on the death penalty, the military intensified its previously started Operation Zarb-e-Azb against the militants of TTP in North Waziristan and through a constitutional amendment, authorized military courts to try civilians.

Omar Khorasani, once was the spokesperson of the TTP, considered to be the mastermind of the attack was killed in a drone strike in eastern Afghanistan. However, another lead terrorist, Moustafa Seyan Sediqyar, connecting with school attack was later killed in a drone strike in Afghanistan. Another militant, Umar Mansoor, claiming to be the mastermind behind the APS carnage was also killed in a US lead drone attack. Saddam Jan, another important militant, and considered to be a close ally of Umar Mansoor and Maulana Fazlullah was hunted and killed in Khyber Agency along with other high value targets.

The government hanged four militants involved in the Peshawar massacre, whereas the Supreme Court of Pakistan also upheld the death sentences of two more convicts involved in the school attack.

Earlier, the parents had also showed serious concern over the issue of negligence of authorities concerned in protecting their children on many platforms, particularly in front of media. The parents complained that before the APS attack, the authorities concerned were given a threat alert by the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) on 28th August, 2014 about a possible terrorist attack on any military-backed educational institution but no serious strategic action was taken to curb terrorist attempt.

Advocate Ajoon Khan, who is the father of Asfand Khan, an APS attack martyr has actively pursuing the case of negligence of authorities concerned has previously briefed the media that he had submitted 25 written questions to the judicial commission about various aspects of the attack and possible negligence of the authorities concerned.

Either it is Fall of Dhakka, APS Attack or more recently Pakistan Institute of Cardiology attack by a section of lawyers would haunt us every single day and keep us in an emotional trauma until we would not pass a resolution to be loyal and sincere with our responsibilities and to not question the inability and negligence of those officials who are responsible of such incidents. Moreover, if we want to not face any such tragedy, all our institutions and individuals would have to work in their own jurisdiction abiding the constitution of Pakistan.

Zaki Abbas is Islamabad-based freelance journalist.


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