'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.”


How Pakistani man made Sheikh Zayed’s green vision come true 

Updated 18 min 28 sec ago

How Pakistani man made Sheikh Zayed’s green vision come true 

  • Al-Yousefi joined the service of Sheikh Zayed in 1962
  • He died on Feb. 14 at the age of 83

DUBAI: A newspaper advertisement for agricultural engineers caught the eye of a young Pakistani studying in Lebanon. Little did he know that it would change his life forever.

It was 1962 and Abdul Hafeez Khan Al-Yousefi was doing his master’s studies at the American University in Beirut, when he replied to the job announcement. It turned out to be published on behalf of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, the founding father of the United Arab Emirates.

The 25-year-old was hired immediately and began his journey to make Sheikh Zayed’s dream come true and turn the desert city of Al Ain into a green oasis.

Abdul Hafeez Khan Al-Yousefi, center, is seen sitting with Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan upon his arrival in Al Ain in 1962. (Photo Courtesy: Abdul Hafeez Khan Al-Yousefi's family)

Al-Yousefi died on Feb. 14 at the age of 83. He was buried at an old cemetery in Al Ain, just a five-minute walk from his home where he lived for 58 years.

Born in what was then British India, he migrated with his family to Karachi after the partition of the subcontinent in 1947. He left Pakistan to study in Beirut.

Khalid Al-Yousefi, the second of his seven children, told Arab News his father knew Sheikh Zayed even before he became the UAE ruler and would share the stories of their closeness.

“To turn Al Ain green was the vision of Sheikh Zayed and it became my father’s passion,” he said. “He spent all his time with Sheikh Zayed to turn the desert green.”

Abdul Hafeez Al-Yousefi shows a tree Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan planted in his garden in 1962. Photo taken Feb. 2, 2019. (Photo Courtesy: Abdul Hafeez Khan Al-Yousefi's family)

In 2015, Al-Yousefi wrote a book titled “50 Years in Al Ain Oasis,” where he narrated the mission to transform the barren region of Al Ain into the Garden City it is now.

Before the Pakistani student joined the service of the future UAE ruler, British experts were trying to convince Sheikh Zayed the green endeavor was an exercise in futility, as nature would always reclaim what is hers. Al-Yousefi’s efforts proved them wrong.

The trees he planted along the roads of Al Ain and Abu Dhabi stand tall until today and protect the cities from wind and sandstorms. 

Even in his last days, the sheikh’s gardener would continue to do wonders and grow plants that normally do not survive in the desert.

“Until my father died, he was taking care of his own garden which has 500 trees,” Khalid said. Some of them are tropical mango trees, banana plants and evergreen Malabar plums.