Chief justice orders probe into Islamabad court attack

Published March 4, 2014
The chief justice has also ordered CCTV cameras at courthouses in Islamabad and Rawalpindi to be made fully operational within 48 hours.— File photo
The chief justice has also ordered CCTV cameras at courthouses in Islamabad and Rawalpindi to be made fully operational within 48 hours.— File photo

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the authorities to identify policemen who failed to respond to a gun and suicide bomb attack on a court complex in Islamabad which killed 11 people.

Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani summoned top security officials over Monday's attack, the deadliest to hit the heavily-guarded capital in more than five years.

Pakistan has been grappling with a homegrown Taliban insurgency since 2007. But attacks in Islamabad have been rare and Monday's incident raises questions about the authorities' ability to secure the city.

The judge, who had taken suo moto notice of the attack, asked for detailed reports on the incident by next Monday and ordered CCTV cameras at courthouses in Islamabad and its twin city Rawalpindi to be made fully operational within 48 hours.

Shahid Khan, the chief bureaucrat in the interior ministry, had told the court that cameras and three security scanner gates at the district courts had been broken for some time.

“The Secretary Interior is directed to make the CCTV cameras functional within 48 hours and by the evening ensure that compensation to the victims' families is announced,” the top judge said.

Islamabad police chief Sikandar Hayat was also told to submit a report about the security detail on Monday and their response to the attack.

Jillani also directed the president and secretary of the Islamabad District Bar Association to submit eyewitness accounts of the incident.

“They should explain in their statements what they saw and mention that despite their efforts the response of policemen was lukewarm and how they were reluctant to fire upon attackers,” Jillani said.

Monday's assault on the complex of courtrooms and offices in a well-heeled area of Islamabad popular with foreign residents was the first major attack in the city since June 2011.

The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) denied any connection to the assault, which came two days after the militants announced a month-long ceasefire aimed at restarting stalled peace talks with the government.

However, the attack was later claimed by the Ahrarul Hind, a lesser-known splinter group of the TTP which had recently parted ways with the umbrella group over holding of talks with the government.

More than 110 people have now been killed in militant attacks since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced the talks in late January, leading some observers to question the value of the process.

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