ISLAMABAD/QUETTA - NAP is ambiguous and ineffective, extremist organisations are operating quite freely, nepotism in appointments is pervasive, ministries are generally irresponsive and authorities inaccessible to the public.

These are some of the findings of a hard-hitting and eye-opening report of Quetta hospital carnage inquiry commission, released by the Supreme Court yesterday - just a day before the nation remembers the victims of Peshawar school massacre.

The 199-page inquiry report by the one-member commission has been prepared in 54 days which finds many loopholes and serious shortcomings in the existing security and governance systems and contains at least 18 key recommendations.

A suicide bomber targeted the emergency services ward at Sandamen Civil Hospital Quetta on August 8, killing at least 70 people, mostly lawyers, and leaving scores injured. Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, a splinter group, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) had claimed responsibility for the bombing.

On October 6, Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali after hearing the suo moto case on the incident constituted the one judge commission comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa. The commission examined concerned persons and obtained responses from all relevant ministries, departments and institutions.

On the specifics of the Quetta hospital attack the report said that prior to the commission directives, no effort was made by the police for the identification of the suicide bomber. The Inspector General of Police was oblivious to the statements and endeavors following the horrifying carnage, it added.

The report said there were no security arrangements at the hospital which caused the irretrievable losses. Furthermore, the hospital was malfunctioning as several precious lives could have been saved by timely treatment.

It is also observed that the investigators think that there is some connection between the attackers and their handler to Afghanistan. However, neither the first attack on Bilal Kasi nor the subsequent attack by the suicide bomber could have been possible without local assistance and participation. The suicide bomber was a Pakistani national and so were a number of his accomplices.

On the broader level, the commission said the solution to the menace of extremism and terrorism is straightforward. Abide by the laws: the Anti-Terrorism Act, National Counter Terrorism Authority Act, the Pakistan Penal Code, and above all the Constitution of Pakistan. It is an abomination to have laws, and not enforce them. The commission had following findings of general kind and recommendations for curbing extremism and terrorism:

NAP ‘not a plan’ as such

The commission found that the National Action Plan was not a plan in any structured or meaningful way, nor has its goals been accordingly monitored or implemented. It should be made into a proper plan, with clear goals, a comprehensive monitoring mechanism, and periodic reviewing. It should also be translated into Urdu for wider dissemination and understanding, the commission recommended.

Passive Nacta

The report severely derided on the snail pace execution of National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) and holding its only one meeting in three and half years period spoke volume of lukewarm response.

The inquiry commission concluded that Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had desecrated the rulings of the Nacta executive committee by establishing no monitoring institute for seminaries. The commission recommended for immediate revamping of Nacta.

The inquiry commission has also recommended establishment of forensic laboratories in all federal units.

Free ride of banned outfits

The report says that the proscribed organisations continue their illegal activities and new terrorist organisations are proscribed after long delays. Some terrorist organisations have still not been proscribed or prosecuted, even when their statements acknowledging terrorist attacks are broadcasted and printed.

ATA enforcement

The commission in its report said the Anti-Terrorism Act needs to be enforced and terrorist organisations must be proscribed without delay. It recommended that terrorists/terrorist organisations must not be permitted to hold meetings. Those claiming to be members of proscribed organisations should be prosecuted in accordance with ATA, it said.

Also, it said that the people of Pakistan require knowing the reasons why an individual or an organisation has been proscribed. Acts committed by terrorists, or those claimed by them, should be listed.

Rogue officials

“The ATA is equally applicable to public functionaries and they should not be cavorting with proclaimed members of banned organisations. Hypocrisy must stop. There needs to be a nationwide streamlining of national policy and all government servants need to abide by it, or face the consequences.”

Irresponsible media

The media has very few stories about the victims of terrorism. Its coverage seems to converge around the propaganda of terrorists, which is disseminated in breach of section 11W of the ATA. The commission recommends that if the media broadcasts and propagates the views of terrorists, then those doing so must be prosecuted in accordance with the law.

Ban on aerial firing

Aerial firing must be stopped throughout the country and immediate criminal cases instituted against those who resort to it. LEAs must be instructed and directed not to resort to aerial firing in the aftermath of terrorist attacks as it further terrorises the victims and dissuades doctors and emergency personnel to come forward to render first aid and assistance.

Nepotism and illegal appointments

The report states that there is a breakdown in the implementation of law and order, which has led to rules being repeatedly violated without consequences, and this has fostered a culture of nepotism.

There are unabashedly clear instances of nepotism when unqualified individuals were illegally appointed. This includes the illegal appointments of at least four secretaries, including the secretary health department (brother of a retired Lt-Gen who is also a federal minister).

Irresponsible govt statements

The inquiry report has unveiled harsh realities vis-à-vis the investigation of authorities concerned and declared the statements of Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri and Balochistan Home Minister Mir Sarfraz Bugti ‘irresponsible statements’.

The report said that the government’s credibility was undermined by their statements which provided fabricated leads that were widely broadcast, disrupting the investigation and creating false expectations.

ISI unreachable

The report states that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) must be providing valuable input to combat terrorism but surprisingly it can’t be contacted to convey information on suspicious or terrorist related activities. ISI does not have a website, address, email, or telephone number. The Commission checked whether the intelligence agencies of other countries were also unreachable.

Inaccessible ministries

It is also stated that the commission, which was constituted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, had considerable difficulty in ascertaining the whereabouts of the government ministries, departments and agencies; one can but commiserate with the poor citizens who may have to interact with them. If such nebulousness serves a purpose it could only be to remain aloof and unapproachable and therefore unquestionable and unaccountable.

The federal ministries, with their institutions and the provincial departments with their respective institutions should only use stationary which provides contact details, including postal address, email, and telephone number.

Ministry of No Affairs

The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Inter Faith Harmony is a moribund Ministry and is not fulfilling its most basic mandate for interfaith harmony. There is no registration or monitoring of madaris.

Border mismanagement

The commission finds that the Western borders are not monitored, and even from the official crossings there is a free and unrestricted flow of people and goods (including terrorists, weapons, ammunition, and other contraband).

It is proposed that entry into and departure from Pakistan needs to be properly monitored; all persons must have the requisite documentation and be photographed and thumb impressed by the personnel of FIA. The Customs authorities should ensure that contraband is not brought into the country.

FC role unclear

“The Frontier Corps is not responsive to the civil administration, and the role of the Frontier Corps in respect to policing is unclear”.

Compensation

The amount sent by the Government of Punjab as compensation and the amount earmarked by the government of Balochistan as compensation for the legal heirs of the deceased and for the injured should be expeditiously distributed.

Commendation for Punjab govt

Meanwhile, in the light of Director General Public Relations statements, the inquiry commission has also attached eight commendable praises and lauded Punjab government for providing forensic laboratory facilities and compensating carnage victim families.

The commission also appreciated Dr Shyla Sami for her humanistic services at the time of attack at Quetta Civil Hospital and those who gathered evidence from the scene.

NAP is ‘no plan’