ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the authorities to identify policemen who failed to respond to a gun and suicide bomb attack on a court complex in Islamabad which killed 11 people.
Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani summoned top security officials over Monday’s attack, the deadliest to hit the heavily-guarded capital in more than five years. Attacks in Islamabad have been rare and Monday’s incident raises questions about the authorities’ ability to secure the city. The judge asked for detailed reports on the incident by next Monday and ordered CCTV cameras at courthouses in Islamabad and Rawalpindi to be made fully operational within 48 hours.
Shahid Khan, the chief bureaucrat in the Interior Ministry, had told the court that cameras and three security scanner gates at the district courts had been broken for some time. “The interior secretary is directed to make the CCTV cameras functional within 48 hours and by the evening ensure that compensation to the victims’ families is announced,” the top judge said. Islamabad police chief Sikandar Hayat was also told to submit a report about the security detail on Monday and their response to the attack.
Jillani also directed the president and secretary of the Islamabad District Bar Association to submit eyewitness accounts of the incident. “They should explain in their statements what they saw and mention that despite their efforts the response of policemen was lukewarm and how they were reluctant to fire upon attackers,” Jillani said. Monday’s assault on the complex of courtrooms and offices in a well-heeled area of Islamabad popular with foreign residents was the first major attack in the city since June 2011.
Chief Justice Jillani remarked, “Intelligence agencies had warned about the attack and despite this information the occurrence of such a great tragedy is a serious security lapse. If security personnel were present there then why did they not fire upon the attackers and injure them? What will the government do for the safety of general public when such state of affairs prevail in the courts?”
The Pakistani Taliban denied any connection to the assault, which came two days after the militants announced a month-long ceasefire aimed at restarting stalled peace talks with the government. More than 110 people have now been killed in militant attacks since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced the talks in late January, leading some observers to question the value of the process. A spokesman for the Ahrar-ul-Hind militant group, which recently split from the main Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) umbrella group, claimed Monday’s attack. There have been reports of disagreement over talks within the TTP, and analysts have voiced fears that any splintering of the movement would render the peace process useless.
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