A report of the Judicial Commission constituted to probe the attack on Peshawar Army Public School (APS) in 2014 was made public on Friday. According to 24News, the 2014 terrorist attack was a security failure. The report maintained that no proper measures for security were taken despite repeated warnings from the concerned departments.
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The 525-page report, written by Justice Mohammad Ibrahim of the Peshawar High Court, says Pakistan was active in the war on terrorism during which the terror activities peaked in the country. APS attack happened during the time, the judge underlined.
Earlier today, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had ordered the government to make the Army Public School (APS) Judicial Commission Report public. The court also directed the Attorney General of Pakistan to make the government’s response to the report public, local media reported.
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In a horrific attack on Peshawar Army Public School on December 16, 2014, terrorists had killed 131 students and 10 other individuals – making it the most deadly attack in the history of the country. On October 14, 2019, the Supreme Court disposed of a Suo Motu case pertaining to the unfortunate 2014 school carnage after a judicial commission briefing.
‘Personnel did not have the capability to thwart strike’
The inquiry report which was made public on Friday said that the security personnel did not have the capability to thwart such a terrorist strike. The attacks on sensitive installations and soft targets could not be justified under the excuse of war, the report noted, adding that the country’s north-western border was long and insecure.
According to the report, the movement of refugees across the north-western border continued under the government and international treaties. But the local population providing assistance to extremist elements was an unpardonable crime. “Such devastating disasters do happen when our own blood betrays us,” it outlined.
Because of such elements, not only the security arrangements made within limited resources fail but also help the enemy to fulfill their nefarious objectives. In this scenario, it can be said that any agency, no matter how much resources it has, fails to stop such incidents when help is extended from within, the document mentioned.
The report said that the three security layers – guards stationed at the gate, police patrolling the area, and the Quick Response Force available within 10 minutes – had shifted their focus to the smoke blowing out of the vehicle that was set on fire as part of the plan.
As a result, the security’s attention diverted from the APS, and the terrorists managed to enter the school, it added. Moreover, the report says, the NACTA (National Counter Terrorism Authority) had already issued a warning about the attack while noting that the terrorists could target the school.
The warning mentioned that the terrorists’ objective was to target the children of military personnel, as the report said their aim was to stop the Pakistan Army from moving ahead with Zarb-e-Azb and Khyber-I operations.
Read more: APS Terrorism: Pakistan’s 9/11
Notably, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) Maulana Fazlullah claimed responsibility for the attack, stating that it was in retaliation for Pakistani military operations in North Waziristan.
“We selected the army’s school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females … we want them to feel the same pain,” Fazlullah said in a video message days after the attack. Fazlullah was later killed in a drone strike carried out by the United States in Afghanistan.
Although the Pakistan Army remained successful in Operation Zarb-e-Azb, the APS tragedy proved a dot on the success, the report says, adding that the incident raised a serious question on the security system.