ISLAMABAD - The counsel for Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan yesterday told the Supreme Court that a line should have been drawn between the minister and the ministry in the Quetta blast commission report.

“Had the observation been made against the ministry instead of the minister, it would have been a different matter, but the focus of the report was the minister,” Makhdoom Ali Khan, the counsel for Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, told a three-member Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice Amir Hani Muslim, which was hearing the Quetta blast case.

Over 70 people, mostly lawyers, were killed and over 80 injured on August 8, 2016, in the Quetta blast. Regarding the meeting of the interior minister with banned Ahle Sunnat-wal-Jamaat’s chief M Ahmad Ludhianvi, the counsel argued the question was not who met whom. He said the minister met a delegation of Difa-e-Pakistan Council which was not a proscribed organisation. He said it was not in the knowledge of the minister that Ludhianvi was also part of that delegation.

When Justice Hani asked Makhdoom if he had any objection to the authority of the commission, the counsel replied in negation, but added the objection only was to the observations made in the commission’s report. On October 6, 2016, former chief justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali constituted a one-member commission, headed by Justice Qazi Faez Isa, to probe the Quetta blast.

Nisar in his reply objected to the “adverse” observations and findings of the inquiry commission in respect of the ministry and the minister and termed them “unnecessary, uncalled for and violative of natural justice”. “The adverse remarks and observations are without any evidentiary basis,” the reply said. Justice Hani Muslim observed that according to the commission report, three months delay was caused to respond to the inquiry, which should have been done in 10 days.

Nisar’s counsel said a decision to ban an organisation is made on the basis of intelligence agencies’ reports.

Justice Hani remarked the ministry should have appreciated the hard work of the commission. He said it was not the judges’ job to conduct an investigation, but the commission performed the functions which were supposed to be done by the departments of provincial and federal governments. Makhdoom said he did not object to the jurisdiction of the commission while the ministry had extended full cooperation to it. He argued the adverse remarks in the report should be expunged as the apex court in a series of cases had expunged such adverse remarks while giving its judgment. The court accepted Makhdoom’s application to examine intelligence agencies’ reports submitted before the commission. It, however, said no copies of privileged and confidential documents would be allowed to be disclosed.

Earlier, Hamid Khan, representing Balochistan High Court Bar Association, said no compensation had yet been paid to the families of deceased lawyers. Justice Hani advised him to sit with the Balochistan advocate general and the provincial chief secretary to sort out the matter instead of bringing it to the court.

Balochistan Advocate General Amanullah said compensation had been paid to the legal heirs of eight lawyers killed in the suicide blast. He said endowment fund of Rs 250 million had been set up for the education of deceased lawyers’ children.

The case was adjourned until February 28.