PESHAWAR: The attack on the van carrying judicial officers on Wednesday raised questions about the ‘foolproof’ security arrangements made by both the police and the judicial department.
Insiders told The Express Tribune that the van service had been suspended in the wake of the targeted attacks on the judiciary and was later resumed without the much-needed security.
Peshawar High Court registrar Saleem Khan insisted that security was ‘in place’ for all judges.
However, he added that the lapse would be identified and worked upon after a meeting with the PHC chief justice.
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A provincial police official said that it was a serious lapse on the part of police, terming it a ‘success’ for the terrorists to have found a loophole in the security measures.
The terrorists, as they claimed, diverted their focus on security arrangements of the judicial complex after police teams visited the judicial complex and PHC building following attack threats.
They improved security of the buildings and asked the lawyers to remain vigilant.
“This was a serious security lapse on our part. Our whole attention was diverted towards the judicial complex and we forgot to provide security to all judges of the subordinate courts,” a senior police officer said.
SSP Sajjad Khan could not be contacted to confirm if security for judges had been demanded.
Despite security threats, a van was used to transport judges to and from the subordinate courts without any security.
A motorcycle-borne suicide bomber slammed his two-wheeler into the van.
The van driver was killed as was the bomber, while one male and three female judges were wounded in the bombing that took place in Phase V of Hayatabad on Wednesday afternoon. Two passers-by also suffered.
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The four judges including Judicial Magistrate Asif Jadoon, two civil judges Rabia Abbasi, Tehreema Sabahat while Amna Haider, a family court judge, were injured in the attack.
Senior lawyers condemned the attack and announced a boycott of court proceedings across the province.
Former office bearer of K-P Bar Council Ijaz Khan Sabi said the judiciary had become a soft target for militants.
He said that K-P Bar Council has asked the legal fraternity to share their recommendations on how to improve security of the PHC and its subordinate courts, including its officials.
A strike was also announced boycott of court proceedings across the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and lawyers were asked not to appear before courts.
When asked, President Peshawar High Court Bar Association Muzammil Khan condemned the attack and said provision of security would make them vulnerable.
A threat reportedly issued by the provincial government said that a radio conversation had been intercepted on January 22 at Topsar, Khyber Agency, between Abdul Rehman and his associate.
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The conversation revealed their intent for some miscreant activity against lawyers and courts in the near future.
Information merits extreme vigilance and necessary security measures by all concerned, it said.
The outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed credit for the attack that came two days after a suicide bomber mowed down 13 people – including two senior police officers – outside the Punjab Assembly in Lahore.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 17th, 2017.