The Supreme Court on Monday remarked on the plight of the Hazara community, which has been the target of multiple terrorist attacks over the years, while hearing a case pertaining to the deadly Quetta suicide bombing in August 2017.
"Injustices are being committed against the Hazara community," said Justice Asif Saeed Khosa while heading a three-member bench of the apex court on Monday. "The whole country grieves when the funeral processions of members of the Hazara community are carried."
During the hearing, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government also submitted a report on a 2016 attack at a courthouse in Mardan in which 14 people lost their lives.
According to the report, three lawyers and three police officers were among those killed in the attack. The court was requested to order that the compensation given to the victims of the Mardan attack be made equal to that given to the victims of the August Quetta carnage.
The bench declined, saying, "Hopefully, the chief minister of KP will increase compensation for the victims of Mardan".
Justice Dost Mohammad said that there is information that attempts are being made to spread religious hatred in Kurram Agency and Parachinar. Mentioning also the deadly 2014 Army Public School attack, that claimed the lives of 144 children and adults, the judge said that "everything is happening by way of some internal or external agenda".
"These are issues that the government should be dealing with, not the courts," Justice Khosa added. "It is the National Counter Terrorism Authority's (Nacta) job to keep an eye on these things."
The court was asked to form a commission to probe appoint a judicial commission — similar to the one constituted in the wake of deadly twin bombings that targeted lawyers in Quetta — to identify the state elements responsible for perpetuating atrocities against the Hazara community.
Progress on Quetta commission's report
On August 8 last year, 76 people, including 57 lawyers, were killed when a suicide bomber targeted the emergency services ward at Quetta’s Civil Hospital.
The 110-page report of the Justice Qazi Faez Isa-led inquiry commission had put forth several recommendations in the aftermath of the attack, which included the activation of Nacta.
During Monday's hearing, the bench questioned the attorney general regarding the progress on the recommendations made in the Quetta Inquiry Commission report.
The report had also recommended that the federal and Balochistan governments develop and maintain a data bank with information of perpetrators/suspects of heinous crimes and terrorist organisations.
"The report was submitted before this court but the measures recommended have yet to be taken by the government," Justice Khosa told the AG.
"You have thrown the report in the trash," Justice Mohammad added.
The AG told the court that as far as Nacta is concerned, there is a problem with the budget. He added, however, that the data bank will soon be completed and police in KP and Balochistan will be able to identify individuals through fingerprinting.
The AG said that a system for tracing the financial links of terrorists is also being set up, as is a system for monitoring interprovincial border traffic.
Justice Khosa said that steps should be taken to establish schools in areas where there are madrassahs. "An alternative education system should be made available for people."
When asked if there were more children enrolled in public schools or seminaries, the assistant AG told the court that more children are attending public schools.
The assistant AG said that steps are being taken to supervise madrassahs and to set up an alternative education system.
The AG said that a satellite system for aerial surveillance is also in place.
Court emphasises need for border control
During the hearing, Justice Khosa recalled that former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar had approached the court regarding criticism against him in the Quetta commission report.
Specifically, the report had criticised the former minister for meeting with the heads of some banned groups to listen to their demands.
Justice Khosa noted that since leaving the post of interior minister, Nisar had not followed the case.
"The allegations made against Nisar were of a personal nature," the attorney general told the bench.
A lawyer from the Balochistan Bar present in court for the hearing questioned why Nisar had meet with the heads of the banned outfits. However, the bench said that it does not want to get involved in the matter.
The bench highlighted the need for border control and surveillance of airport terminals. The court noted that attackers enter the country through the Taftan border and are found in Hyderabad.
Justice Mohammad pointed out that smuggling and illegal transportation activities take place along the border with Iran.
"Drug smuggling and the income generated through the trade is oxygen for terrorists. Once this oxygen flow is stopped the terrorists will die themselves," he said.