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khan: Pakistan Supreme Court grills Imran Khan over army school massacre case


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Wednesday grilled prime minister Imran Khan in the Army Public School massacre case, questioning his government for holding peace talks with the very terrorist group that had carried out the deadly attack on the Peshawar school in 2014, and ordered the PM to probe security lapses leading up to the assault.
In December 2014, a total of 147 people, 132 of them children, were killed when Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) terrorists stormed the school. Khan’s government, however, is currently in talks with TTP and as part of the reconciliation process it has already announced a complete ceasefire with the banned outfit.
In a rare move, Khan appeared before the court on the orders of a three-judge SC bench headed by chief justice Gulzar Ahmed.
With regards to media reports regarding negotiations with the TTP, the bench questioned whether “we are bringing them (TTP) back to the negotiating table instead of taking action against them?”
“Are we going to surrender once again?” one of the judges, justice Qazi Mohammad Amin, asked the PM.
Khan was asked to explain his government’s actions against officials involved in the school’s security. He replied that he was not the country’s PM when the attack took place. It prompted the chief justice to ask him what his government has done in the past three years to redress the grievances of the families of the victims. “You issue order and we will take action,” Khan told the bench, adding that the relatives of the victims were compensated. At this, the chief justice remarked that the parents wanted their children and not compensation. The court informed the PM that the victims’ parents want action against officials who were posted at high-ranking positions at the time of the attack.
At one point of time, the debate over fixing responsibility became heated when Khan said before the court: “Find out why 80,000 people were killed. Also, find out who is responsible for 480 drone attacks taking place in Pakistan.”
The chief justice responded: “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.”
During the hearing, the bench asked the federal government to listen to the stance of the victims’ parents, saying action should be taken against anyone whose negligence was proven. The apex court also directed the government to submit a report, signed by the PM, in this regard in four weeks.
The SC order came after years of protests by parents and relatives of the children who had lost their loved ones in the attack. The families are also protesting the government’s efforts to strike a peace deal with TTP.
Khan’s appearance is the first time since 2012 that a sitting prime minister had been asked to appear before the top court. Raja Pervez Ashraf, the then prime minister from Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), was asked to appear in connection with a graft inquiry against former president Asif Ali Zardari.
Khan’s grilling by the top court happened days after his government’s surrender to the far-right Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), which was behind anti-France protests over the publication of caricatures of Prophet Muhammad last year there. The TLP was believed to be covertly supported by the country’s powerful military establishment. The government-TLP tussle was preceded by Khan’s tug-of-war with the top military brass over the appointment of the country’s new ISI chief.

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