Judicial commission completes APS massacre probe

Updated 04 Jun 2020

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A Pakistan Army soldier stands inside the Army Public School, which was attacked by Taliban gunmen, in Peshawar on December 17, 2014. — Reuters/File
A Pakistan Army soldier stands inside the Army Public School, which was attacked by Taliban gunmen, in Peshawar on December 17, 2014. — Reuters/File

PESHAWAR: A single-member judicial commission has completed probe into the 2014 Army Public School massacre and is likely to submit its report to the Supreme Court by the end of the current month.

“Peshawar High Court Justice Mohammad Ibrahim Khan of the judicial commission has recorded the statements of around 140 people, including injured students, parents of martyred students and the army and police officials, and examined the investigations conducted by the police and security agencies,” focal person of the commission Imranullah Khan told reporters here on Wednesday.

He said the commission was finalising the probe report and would submit it to the Supreme Court by the end of June.

During the in-camera proceedings here, some parents had also requested the commission to summon former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and former army chief General Raheel Sharif. However, the commission rejected the request declaring the appearance of the two before it is not necessary.

Report to be submitted to SC by end of month

The commission was formed by the Peshawar High Court on Oct 12, 2018, on the Supreme Court’s orders. It had become functional on Oct 19, 2018.

Among the key army officers, whose statements were recorded by the probe body, were former Peshawar corps commander Lt-General Hidayatur Rehman, then chairman of Army Public Educational Institutions (APEI) BoG Brigadier Mudassir Azam, officer of 102 Brigade, HQ-11 Corps, Brigadier Inayatullah, Major Dr Asim Shehzad of Army Medical Corps, and secretary of the BoG Colonel Hazrat Bilal.

The commission also recorded statements of some senior police officials, including former provincial police officers Salahuddin Mehsud and Nasir Durrani, former DIG of counterterrorism department Alam Shinwari, former home and tribal affairs secretary Syed Akhtar Ali Shah, former capital city police officer Ijaz Khan, former SP (cantonment) Faisal Shehzad and former SP (city) Mustafa Tanveer, and others.

Appearance of some army officers was delayed last year due to Indo-Pak border tensions.

The commission had sent a letter to the defence ministry on Feb 11, 2019, to ensure the appearance of eight army officers before it for recording statements in connection with the APS attacks, which killed 147 people, mostly students.

In Apr last year, it sent a reminder to the defence ministry seeking information about the dates on which those military officers will be available for the purpose.

The officers later turned up before the commission and recorded statements regarding the carnage.

The then Supreme Court chief justice, Mian Saqib Nisar, had taken notice of the matter in Apr 2018 during a visit to Peshawar when several parents of the APS students martyred by militants on campus had approached him with a request to address their grievances.

They had called for the fixing of the responsibility of negligence, which led to the massacre.

The parents questioned why proper security measures were not adopted after the National Counter Terrorism Authority had informed different provincial and federal authorities on Aug 28, 2014, that militants of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan would carry out attacks against the Army Public School and College and other educational institutions run by the Pakistan Army.

Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2020