"I felt the gravity of the incident after seeing the premises of the courts and bar offices wearing a deserted look."
Ali Ahmed Kurd advocate, a former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, believes that the loss suffered by Balochistan due to killing of a large number of lawyers and other people in the Aug 8 Sandeman Civil Hospital suicide bomb attack in Quetta, has created a vacuum of intellectuals, politicians, human rights and civil society activists.
The following are excerpts of an interview Mr Kurd gave to Dawn regarding the tragic event.
Q: The cream of the legal fraternity was wiped out in the attack. How long do you think will it take to fill the vacuum?
A: I am hearing the word ‘vacuum’ since my childhood, but have not felt its gravity and impact. It was the Civil Hospital suicide bomb explosion which taught me the real meaning of the word.
After losing my senior and junior colleagues and friends from the legal fraternity, it was for the first time I understood the real meaning of the word. I felt the gravity of the incident after seeing the premises of the Balochistan High Court, sessions court and district court and offices of the bars wearing a deserted look.
How will this vacuum be filled? This is the million-dollar question. It is a very deep and serious wound, which cannot be filled in a short time. We have started our efforts to take steps to fill this vacuum in minimum time and in this connection the judiciary, senior lawyers and bars would have to play their due role.
The law of nature takes its own course, which heals wounds and fills the vacuum. But it will take time. It is also the responsibility of senior lawyers to extend all help and cooperation for capacity building [of younger lawyers].
Q: Why do you think lawyers were targeted?
A: The terrorists have deprived Balochistan of lawyers, human rights activities, members of civil society, police leaders, and human rights protectors. Our colleagues were targeted in a ruthless way.
Terrorists targeted the lawyers’ community to prevent the people of Balochistan from getting justice. Lawyers were a big hurdle in the nefarious designs of terrorists. Everybody comes to lawyers’ chambers to seek justice and we fight for justice.
This tragic incident shocked the entire country as all nationalities living in Balochistan — including Baloch, Pakhtun, Punjabi, Christians and other people — have been badly affected.
Q: Who do you think could be behind the attack?
A: We have no information about who was involved in the attack. The investigating agencies and other officials have not so far shared with us any classified information.
Some people shared some footage and pictures about the [suspected] killer on social media. The footage seen on social media revealed that a man wearing a black coat over shalwar qameez was the bomber who blew himself up.
However, the man in a black coat and having a file in his hand was a stranger for the lawyers. He was not from the lawyers’ community.
Lawyers have seriously been considering what steps should be adopted for the protection of the legal community. Lawyers want the elements involved in this incident to be exposed.
Q: Are you satisfied with the arrangements which the government has taken for providing protection to lawyers?
A: It is the responsibility of the government to provide full security not only to the lawyers’ community but also ensure security of common people who are very vulnerable. The government should take concrete and practical steps for providing maximum security to the people.
Q: How do you view the steps the government is taking to compensate the victims of the bombing?
A: The government has announced Rs10 million financial aid for the family and children of each lawyer who was killed in the blast.
This financial aid would be distributed among the affected families within the next one or two weeks. We have demanded that the compensation amount should be increased. The government has promised that two jobs would also be given to the affected families and the government would bear educational expenditure of the deceased’s children.
Dr Abdul Malik Kasi, the father of Dawood Kasi, who had been killed in the suicide bomb blast, announced the donation of five acres of land for the construction of a colony for the families of the Quetta carnage.
It is our demand that the provincial government should provide at least 15 acres of land in the area where Dr Kasi has donated five acres of land.
The government should also give compensation to the other people, including two photojournalists who died in the same tragic incident.
Mr Kurd concluded the interview by saying that the majority of lawyers lost their lives as they were not given immediate medical treatment at the Civil Hospital and CMH.
He suggested that the trauma centre constructed two years ago near the Civil Hospital’s emergency ward should be made functional without further delay.
He said that after the incident no doctor was available in the Civil Hospital apart from a courageous lady doctor, Shehla Sami Kakar, who stood with the rescue workers and gave treatment to the injured lawyers.
Header photo: AFP