Raising serious doubts over the competence of intelligence agencies, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said that maintenance of law and order in Balochistan was both the responsibility of the federal as well as the provincial government.
“Just go and get this Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. I am at a loss to understand why the law enforcement agencies have been unable to arrest these people,” said Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
“I want to know the reasons why this incident happened again. Was it their failure?” he asked, referring to the country’s federal and provincial intelligence agencies.
The country’s top court, taking sou motu notice of Saturday’s Quetta carnage that killed over 80 people said that intelligence agencies failed to gather and share information with law enforcement agencies. This in turn resulted in the loss of several lives.
Not satisfied with the response given by the federal secretaries for interior and defence on the failure of the intelligence agencies to curb terrorist attacks in Quetta, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry asked the government to submit a detailed report assessing the competence of the intelligence agencies by today (Wednesday).
The three-member bench, comprising the chief justice as well as Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, in its order stated that the copy of the ruling should be sent to the president, prime minister and governor of Balochistan and they may respond to the court’s observations through the attorney general (AG) of Pakistan.
Earlier in the day, the bench had taken suo motu notice of the brutal killings of members of the Shia Hazara community in Quetta. Following country wide protests, the Supreme Court summoned Interior Secretary Khawaja Siddique Akbar and Defence Secretary Lt General (retd) Asif Yasin Malik to submit an investigation report on the killings.
When the court took resumed the hearing after a break, the two secretaries could not satisfy the chief justice why the country’s premier intelligence agencies such as the Intelligence Bureau (IB), Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the Military Intelligence (MI), Special Branch of Police and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) failed to gather information and intelligence about who had been carrying out terror attacks targeting the Hazaras with impunity.
The interior secretary informed the court that the federal government had replaced the Balochistan Inspector General of Police and Mushtaq Sukhaira had been appointed the new chief of the provincial police. He added that the director of IB had been transferred and IB Quetta’s deputy director had been suspended for failing to collect and share intelligence.
He said after a meeting with Balochistan Governor Zulfiqar Ali Magsi, Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf had sent a parliamentary delegation alongwith representatives of the Afghan government to Quetta to negotiate with the protesting Hazara families.
Meanwhile, the defence secretary said he did not get enough time to collect reports from the intelligence agencies from Balochistan and could submit comprehensive details if given time.
The chief justice asked how a tanker loaded with over 800 kg of explosives could enter a crowded area without being checked by any one despite the fact that the FC had its check posts in the area.
Justice Chaudhry stated had the intelligence agencies and law enforcers simply combed the city and surrounding areas after the January 10 blast, the second colossal attack could have been averted.
The chief justice observed that if the secretaries failed to satisfy the court on the question of why the intelligence agencies failed to have information before the terrorist attacks and their competence to follow the terrorists and help the law enforcers arrest the culprits, the apex court could ask the chief executive of the country to appear before the court.
The bench adjourned the hearing until Wednesday and directed the intelligence agencies to submit their reports.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 20th, 2013.