While commending report of the apex court judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa, the top court has observed that investigation into August 8, 2016 suicide and shooting attack on the premises of a government hospital in Quetta will not be put in ‘cold storage’.
The deadly incident, which took place at Quetta’s Civil Hospital, left 70 people dead and more than 130 injured. The fatalities were mainly lawyers who had assembled at the hospital after the killing of Balochistan Bar Association’s former president Bilal Kasi earlier on that day.
Resuming hearing of the suo motu case, the Supreme Court’s three-judge bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa on Wednesday said: “Quetta incident is a big tragedy, which cannot be forgotten. We will continuously monitor the investigation.”
He lauded Justice Isa for probing into the matter and compiling ‘a very comprehensive report’. “He (Justice Isa) has done a wonderful job,” Justice Khosa observed.
In the original report, the single judge led Quetta Inquiry Commission (QIC) had highlighted the Ministry of Interior’s ‘monumental failure’ in countering terrorism. It had objected to Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar’s meeting with the leader of a banned outfit and ministry’s ‘delays’ in proscribing militant groups.
In response to the report, the interior minister had also submitted a 64-page report, in which he had requested the SC to expunge the commission’s remarks against him.
During the hearing on Wednesday, Justice Khosa observed that there are four aspects of the suo motu case. “One is related to the situation of the Civil Hospital Quetta; second is about compensation of victims; third aspect is regarding the proscribed organisations and the commission’s remarks about interior ministry and last component is investigation into the case,” he said.
On a query of the bench, Counter-Terrorism Department DIG Aitzaz Goraya said five culprits involved in this attack had been killed in an encounter while one accused, Saeed Badani, was arrested a month ago.
“However, two more accused, who are now proclaimed offenders, have not been arrested,” he said.
The DIG said the police had announced Rs2 million head-money for the absconders and were continuously conducting raids in different parts of the province. He said police had confirmed information that both the accused were hiding in Pakistan and had not flown outside the country.
“Badani, who is in police custody, has also revealed vital information about the case,” he added.
The bench, however, asked the police to submit its progress report on the investigation of case on September 12, the next date of hearing.
The bench also sought reply from provincial government over Balochistan High Court Bar Association’s plea regarding the provincial government’s failure to fulfill its commitments to offer compensation to victim families, treatment of the injured and other steps for welfare of heirs of martyred lawyers.
Another member of bench, Justice Gulzar Ahmad, lamented that the best of Balochistan’s lawyers were lost in the incident, adding that seven persons, who were involved in this incident, killed hundreds of citizens and the provincial government lost billions of rupees.
Earlier, Additional Attorney General Waqar Rana told the bench that Makhdoom Ali Khan, who appeared on behalf of the interior minister, had recused himself from the case after the SC’s verdict on the engagement of private counsels by government departments.
Khawaja Haris has been engaged on behalf of Nisar but he is on general adjournment till Sep 1. The bench observed that they had sent a message to him to appear in this case as lawyers came from Quetta to attend the hearing. Later, the court decided to take up the case on the next date of hearing, Sep 12.