Varsity status for Peshawar APS likely, SC told

Published September 28, 2020
The federal government is considering to implement one of the recommendations of the judicial commission that probed the terrorist attack on Army Public School-Warsak in Peshawar by upgrading the school and granting it university status. — AP/File
The federal government is considering to implement one of the recommendations of the judicial commission that probed the terrorist attack on Army Public School-Warsak in Peshawar by upgrading the school and granting it university status. — AP/File

ISLAMABAD: It is under active consideration of the federal government to implement one of the recommendations of the judicial commission that probed the terrorist attack on Army Public School-Warsak in Peshawar by upgrading the school and granting it university status, the Supreme Court was informed.

A three-judge SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, was apprised during a hearing on Friday that the government was considering a proposal to upgrade APS Warsak, which came under attack, and named as Shuhada APS University.

The deadly attack left 147 people, including 132 children, martyred when militants had stormed the army-run school in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s capital on Dec 16, 2014.

Report says govt may also include a lesson on Dec 16 attack in curriculum

Taking suo motu notice of grievances of the parents of the martyred schoolchildren, former chief justice Saqib Nisar had appointed a judicial commission to probe the terrorist attack and asked Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth on Oct 5, 2018 to nominate a senior judge of the high court for the commission. Subsequently, Justice Mohammad Ibrahim Khan conducted proceedings of the commission and finalised its report that, besides its findings, also contained some recommendations.

One of the recommendations given by the commission was upgrading the school as Shuhada APS University.

The federal government informed the SC bench that in recognition of the sacrifices rendered by the martyred students, it was being considered that the incident be made part of school curriculum.

In its report, the federal government said the loss of precious lives during the tragic incident was grave and irreparable, as human act could not possibly lighten the pain and agony of the bereaved families and the federal and provincial governments made all-out efforts to arrest, prosecute and punish the culprits involved in the incident.

Besides, it said, efforts were made to provide best available medical assistance to the survivors at the state expense.

The federal government stated that it was not unnatural that despite all actions taken and efforts made by the state authorities, some members of the bereaved families still had questions and reservations and they approached the apex court for the redressal of their grievances.

Referring to the government’s response to the recommendation of the judicial commission, the federal government said the federal and provincial governments undertook numerous steps for providing medical as well as psychological treatment to the injured. They also took measures for the welfare and provision of education facilities to the families, besides striving for alleviating their pain and agony through financial support.

The federal government also awarded 22 shuhada with Tamgh-i-Shujaat and Sitara-i-Shujaat (civil awards).

As per recommendations of the commission, some educational institutions have been renamed to pay tribute to the martyrs. Additionally, several flyovers, parks and roads across the country have been named after the schoolchildren, according to the federal government report.

The government said that as September 6 was being observed to honour the martyrs of the country, the APS students were specially presented tribute on the day, while an annual commemoration ceremony was held with Quran Khawani at the APS in December.

About the school building, the government said that a portion of auditorium complex was being utilised as library, while the remaining portion had already been converted into an examination hall.

The injured students were accommodated as special cases for admission to the institutions of their choice up to intermediate level, the federal government told the bench. It said a transparent mechanism was also devised for the provision of free secondary and higher education for the siblings of shuhada in the army-run institutions like the cadet/military colleges.

Also, two seats each in the University of Engineering and Technology, Peshawar, and Khyber Medical University, Peshawar, had been reserved as a special quota for the victim families, the bench was informed.

The federal government in its report stated that a substantial assistance package was provided to the families and both the central and the provincial governments announced special compensation packages for the students and staff members. Moreover, the government would also consider exemption of property tax in accordance with the law for the families of the victims.

The government report explained that jobs to the next of kin of staff members in the army-affiliated organisations had been granted as per qualification and willingness of the individuals/families.

The Supreme Court ordered the federal government to make the 525-page report public on September 25, one and a half months after Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan had been asked to get instructions from the government regarding the judicial commission’s report.

Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2020

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