Pakistan Court Asks Imran Khan to Probe Deadly School Attack
(Bloomberg) -- Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered Prime Minister Imran Khan to probe security lapses leading up to a deadly attack on a school by militants of a local Taliban affiliate seven years ago, even as his government holds peace talks with the militant group.
In a rare move, the premier appeared before the court Wednesday on the orders of a panel of justices headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed. Khan was asked to explain his government’s actions against officials involved in the school’s security, information minister Fawad Chaudhry told reporters after the hearing. The court gave Khan four weeks to respond, he said.
The order came after years of protests by relatives of about 150 people, mostly children, killed in the 2014 assault by local Taliban gunmen on an army-run school in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar. The families are also protesting the government’s recent efforts to strike a peace deal with the group, an offshoot of Afghanistan’s Taliban.
The gunmen, linked to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, were killed by the security forces during the attack. The incident forced the government of then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to order a major military offensive against the militants, mostly crushing them. Khan’s administration is in now peace talks with the group and last week it struck a temporary cease-fire deal with them.
The justices were critical of the government’s overtures to the Taliban-linked group, which has been blamed for about two decades of violence that has killed more than 70,000 people and caused billions of dollars of losses to the economy, local media including Geo television reported.
Khan’s appearance is the first time since 2012 that a sitting premier has been asked to appear before the top court. The last time then prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf was asked to appear in connection with a graft inquiry against former President Asif Ali Zardari.
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