'No set timeline' for Peshawar school attack commission report — spokesman

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A Pakistani soldier stands guard at the site of the militants' attack on a school, in Peshawar, on December 17, 2014. (Reuters/ File Photo)
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Peoples walk past an entrance gate with flowers and notes left by the people, at the Army Public School which was attacked by Taliban gunmen, in Peshawar December 21, 2014. (REUTERS/File photo)
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Pakistani students and civil society activists carry placards as they march during a vigil to pay tribute to the victims of the Peshawar school massacre of December 16, 2014, the deadliest terror attack in Pakistan's history, ahead of the first anniversary, in Lahore on December 15, 2015. (AFP)
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Updated 16 December 2019

'No set timeline' for Peshawar school attack commission report — spokesman

  • Over 150 people, most of them children were gunned down by Taliban militants in an attack on an army-run school in Dec. 2014
  • Parents of the victims have made calls for a high-level investigation to identify officials, both civil and military, whose negligence allowed the attack to take place

LAHORE/PESHAWAR: The spokesman of a commission set up last year to investigate a 2014 militant attack in which 132 children were killed in the Pakistani city of Peshawar said on Friday there was “no set timeline” for when the body would deliver its final report. 
Over 150 people, most of them children were gunned down by Taliban militants in an attack on an army-run school in the northwestern town of Peshawar on December 16, 2014, the bloodiest massacre the country had seen for years.
Last October, four years after the attack, the Supreme Court formed a one-man commission comprising Justice Muhammad Ibrahim Khan of the Peshawar High Court and gave him six weeks to compile a report into the causes of the attack, including official negligence. 
Over a year later, the findings of the commission have yet to be submitted before the top court.
“Justice Khan is a serving judge; whenever he gets time from his court responsibilities he works on the report,” Imran Ullah, the focal person of the commission, told Arab News when asked when the investigation would be completed and the confidential report submitted to the court. “There is no set timeline. It could take a while.”
Though Pakistan executed four men for involvement in the massacre in 2015, parents of the victims have made calls for a high-level investigation that would identify officials, both civil and military, whose negligence allowed the attack to take place. 
The parents’ plea revolves around a letter by the National Counter Terrorism Authority, written a few months prior to the assault, alerting authorities about a plan to hit an army-run educational institution.
“Why was the security of the school not increased? Why was the threat not taken seriously?” said Ajoon Khan, a lawyer who represents some of the victims’ parents and whose son was also gunned down in the attack. “All those responsible should be made accountable.”
Until now, the commission has recorded the statements of a 100 parents and 50 state officials from the military, police, and bureaucracy, the commission’s spokesman said, adding that the final report had been delayed on account of many of the statements being very long and therefore difficult to compile, as well as due to a delayed response from military officials to a list of queries.
Andaleeb Aftab, a longtime teacher at the army school, whose 16-year-old son was killed in the attack, said she had little expectation the commission would deliver justice.
“The commission has been working for over a year and so far there is only silence from their side," Aftab said. "Our children were innocent. They were young. They had their whole life in front of them. But no one wants to give us justice.”


Pakistan’s role in Middle East deescalation hailed, says Qureshi

Updated 24 January 2020

Pakistan’s role in Middle East deescalation hailed, says Qureshi

  • Says the country’s diplomatic efforts have produced positive results in the region
  • Informs that US President Donald Trump is planning an exclusive visit to Pakistan this year

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told Arab News in an exclusive interview on Thursday that Pakistan’s mediation gesture during the Middle East crisis in the beginning of the year was applauded by Saudi Arabia and Iran.
“Both Saudi Arabia and Iran have appreciated Pakistan’s positive intentions behind the mediation effort,” Qureshi said, adding that the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, told him during a meeting in Riyadh that Pakistan was “on the right track and all the regional countries should immediately join hands to deescalate the situation in the Middle East.”
On the directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Qureshi visited Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States earlier this month to urge all stakeholders to practice “maximum restraint” in the wake of the killing of a top Iranian commander, Qassem Soleimani, in a US drone strike in Baghdad.
“With the help of other countries, Pakistan succeeded in its efforts to deescalate the Middle East situation. The country assured everyone it was willing to be partner in peace but could not become part of any other conflict,” Qureshi said.
“I also contacted foreign ministers of other regional states. Everyone understood the importance of convincing the countries concerned to exercise maximum restraint,” he continued.
“I met with the Iranian foreign minister and president. My meeting with President Hassan Rouhani lasted for an hour wherein we discussed how to defuse the situation and minimize tensions in the region,” the foreign minister said, adding: “I shared all the findings of my discussions in Tehran with my counterpart in Riyadh, saying it was Pakistan’s utmost desire to reduce tensions in the region.”
The minister continued that Pakistan wanted to minimize misunderstandings among Muslim states.
“Saudi Arabia is our very close friend while Iran is our neighbor. We don’t want tensions to mount among Muslim countries since that can be harmful for the whole Muslim Ummah.”
Asked about the expected visit of United States President Donald Trump to Pakistan, he said the American leader would visit Pakistan this year.
“President Trump has expressed his desire to pay an exclusive and independent visit to Pakistan which would not be linked to his visit to India. Pakistan is an independent and important country in the eyes of President Trump, therefore he desires to pay an exclusive visit to Pakistan,” Qureshi said.
The foreign minister said it now depended on President Trump’s “schedule where the visit will fit in.”
“It may come before or after the next US presidential election, but it will take place this year,” he said.