- APS commission report highlights security lapses
It has taken almost two years for the Judicial Commission Report on the APS (Army Public School) Peshawar massacre to be made public and it took some doing on part of the parents who lost their children on that fateful day. Although the Chief Justice of Pakistan at the time, Mr Justice Saqib Nisar, four years after the horrific incident, in 2018 had constituted a commission to thoroughly probe the attack and submit a report within six weeks, it was only completed this past July. The report notes that serious security lapses and on-ground help to the terrorists allowed the attack to take place. It states that even though NACTA had issued timely warnings about the possibility of a terror attack against army families taking place in retaliation to Operation Zarb-e-Azb and Khyber-1, an inadequate level of security was provided to both hard and soft targets. While it maintains that a ‘static’ first tier of security at the school was responsible, much of the responsibility to thwart the attack lay on ‘the shoulders of 11 Corps’.
It goes on to define the incident as a spoiler that took a lot away from an otherwise valiant and successful anti-terrorism operation attributable to the Army and security forces that rid the country of the most violent and deadly streak of terrorism it had witnessed. The report correctly points out how ‘no security apparatus can be effective if infidels have infiltrated the country from the inside’. This only goes to show how vulnerable the security situation in Pakistan is and how even the slightest slip up in the race to stay one step ahead of the enemy through vigilance and intelligence gathering can have disastrous consequences.
The delay in the completion of the report and its being made public does not make for good optics either, as it creates a perception that the findings are particularly damaging for the government and certain institutions and therefore are being kept secret. Now that it is finally out, it can perhaps provide some modicum of much-needed closure to the victims’ families. One hopes that CJP Gulzar Ahmed’s instructions to the AGP, to ‘ensure that the investigation starts at the top instead of interrogating the low-ranking officials’, are not ignored and are implemented expeditiously.