It is reported that the Supreme Court may accept — subject to record — a toning down of the language of the judicial commission report into the August 2016 bombing in Quetta. It will be recalled that the report was a stinging indictment, a catalogue of failures at virtually every level by every agency and entity that had any connection to the atrocity and its aftermath. Both the Interior Ministry and its Minister came in for particularly sharp criticism which the minister has condemned since, saying he was unfairly pilloried and misrepresented. What the report was highlighting was what was described as the ‘monumental failure’ to counter terrorism and the meeting between the Interior Minister and the leader of a banned organisation. The report was also critical of the ‘delays’ in the proscribing of militant groups.
The Interior Ministry has now produced what amounts to a 64 page rebuttal, and a request that some parts of the wording of the report be expunged. It was this request that prompted Justice Amir Hani Muslim to comment on the dilution of the language and further to observe that it is necessary to draw a line between the ministry itself and the minister who heads it up. It was the personal nature of the criticisms rather than the criticisms per se that drew the attention of the Bench, and it is difficult to gainsay the comments from the Bench.
That said it must also be noted that the Interior Ministry had no objections to the findings of the commission which were far reaching. The Minister may be in high dudgeon but the fact remains that the report went to the core of any number of institutional failings that call into question the ability of the state to combat and counter many aspects of the terrorist threat to the state. The sensitivities of a single minister cannot, must not, be allowed to undermine the power and veracity of one of the most important reports to come into the public domain for many years. Sorry if you are a little bruised, Minister, but public needs trump your delicate sensibilities.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2017.
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