Four years on, families of Peshawar school massacre still await justice

File photo for student in Karachi holding a rose takes part in a prayer for victims of the Taliban attack on Army Public School in Peshawar, on Dec. 2014. (REUTERS)
Updated 16 December 2018
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Four years on, families of Peshawar school massacre still await justice

  • Parents say only high-level judicial probe will ‘satisfy’ them
  • Commemorative ceremonies held in Peshawar, around the country

PESHAWAR: Families of children killed or wounded in one of Pakistan’s deadliest militant attacks said the government had broken its promise of delivering justice, four years after Taliban gunmen massacred 134 students in a military-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

Aurengzeb Khan, whose son died in the attack on Dec 16, 2014, told Arab News he was pessimistic that the single-judge judicial commission announced this October to investigate the assault would deliver results.  

“I haven’t been compensated nor given any consolation by the government,” he said.

Fazl Khan, an advocate who also lost his son in the gruesome attack, said he did not care about being compensated by the government; he only wanted justice.  

“We still demand a high-level judicial probe into the incident to identify any security lapse and bring the perpetrators to task,” Khan told Arab News. “Only that will satisfy us.”

More than 148 Pakistanis, most of them children, were killed in the broad daylight attack on the military-run school four years ago, an assault that Taliban insurgents said was revenge for the killings of their own relatives by the Pakistani army in military operations.

The school in Peshawar, a chaotic, teeming city on the edge of the country’s turbulent tribal belt, is operated by the army. Although it enrolls civilian students also, many of its pupils come from army families and were clearly the Taliban’s intended target.

On Sunday, a special commemoration ceremony was held at the neat pink brick-and-stone campus to pay homage to the 134 children ad 16 staff members killed on that dark day four years ago. Shah Farman, the governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of which Peshawar is the capital, was the chief guest. Corps Commander Peshawar Lt. Gen. Shaheen Mazhar Mehmood was also present.

Similar functions were also held in other educational institutions in Peshawar as well as around the country to remember the survivors. On Sunday night, dozens of bereaved families held a candlelight vigil in Peshawar, holding up banners and photos of their loved ones.

“Compensation is not a substitute,” Tufail Khattack, the father of a student who lost his life in the attack, said while attending the commemoration ceremony. “Even if I am given the entire wealth of Pakistan it will not be enough, but it is a matter of pride for me that I’m the father of a martyr whose blood might ensure peace and tranquility in the country.”

Khattack said his second son, critically injured in the attack, was still at a trauma centre: “He is still recovering from the appalling tragedy and his treatment is extremely expensive,” he added.

He said each victim’s family has been granted a Rs. 2 million compensation package and a 10-marla plot but these would not bring back “the person who was very close to my heart.”

Pakistan announced a 20-point National Action plan to tackle militancy after the assault on the Army Public School. The plan's main thrusts included expanded counter-terrorism raids, secret military courts and the resumption of hangings, as well as clauses banning "glorification of terrorism and terrorist organisations through print and electronic media.”

On October 5, almost four years after the attack, the Supreme Court formed a judicial commission led by a Peshawar High Court judge to probe the carnage. The commission was to submit its report in six weeks, but the document is still pending.

Abdul Wahed Qadri whose grandson was killed in the attack told Arab News he was grateful to the chief justice for forming the judicial commission: “Otherwise we know that judicial commissions tend to yield no results.”


France’s Nicolas Sarkozy loses bid to avoid influence peddling trial

Updated 19 June 2019
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France’s Nicolas Sarkozy loses bid to avoid influence peddling trial

  • Sarkozy is accused of offering to help a judge win promotion
  • Sarkozy’s lawyers have previously argued that magistrates investigating the alleged secret Libyan funding exceeded their powers

PARIS: Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy will stand trial for influence peddling after the country's highest court rejected his final bid to have the case thrown out, his lawyer said on Wednesday.
Sarkozy is accused of offering to help a judge win promotion in return for leaked information about a separate inquiry. He has consistently denied any wrongdoing.
The case came about after investigators used phone-taps to examine allegations that late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi funded Sarkozy’s successful campaign for the presidency in 2007.
As they eavesdropped on his calls, the investigators began to suspect the former president had offered the judge promotion in return for information on another investigation involving allegations Sarkozy accepted illicit payments from L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for the same campaign.
Sarkozy’s lawyers have previously argued that magistrates investigating the alleged secret Libyan funding exceeded their powers and went on a “fishing expedition” by tapping his conversations between September 2013 and March 2014, breaching lawyer-client privilege.
He was cleared over the Bettencourt allegations.
On Wednesday, his defence team said the use in this case of wiretapped remarks gleaned in relation to a different investigation contravened a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.
"These legal issues are still relevant," Sarkozy lawyer Jacqueline Laffont said. "It will be for the court to decide whether a French court can override a decision of the European Court of Human Rights."
Wednesday's ruling that the trial proceed came from the 'Cour de Cassation', which decides whether an earlier decision by an appeals court conforms with French law.