–16 suspects taken into custody during raids in Tanager, Daryal areas of GB as law enforcers ask jirga leaders to play role
–Another school torched on Friday night takes total number of damaged schools to 13
ISLAMABAD/GILGIT: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Saturday hinted at the possibility that the attack on 13 schools in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) was a ‘conspiracy’ against his initiative to build the Diamer-Bhasha Dam, as he took suo motu notice of the acts of vandalism in the schools in the semi-autonomous region.
At least 12 schools, half of which were girls-only educational centres, had been burned down in Diamer district by unidentified assailants during Thursday night.
In his address to the Multan Bar Council, the chief justice implied that the overnight incident on Thursday was an act of ‘opposition’ to his initiative to collect funds for the much-awaited construction of the dam.
He said: “I went to Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) a few days ago and was told by sessions judges and locals that it has been years since there has been a robbery or murder in the area… but as soon as we [read judges] started talking about building a dam [in Diamer], 12 educational institutions were torched.”
Justice Nisar asked, “Who is conspiring against Pakistan?” He added that he didn’t want to level “irresponsible allegations against anyone” but was leaving the matter for the people to decide. “For the past 60 years, no dam has been built and now that we are trying to build one, there are conspiracies against it,” he argued.
Urging the people to participate and support the construction of dams, he hoped, “The people of Pakistan will get this implemented!”
The top judge reasoned that building the Diamer-Bhasha Dam was “unavoidable and vital for the survival of the country.” He asked the people to “squash any conspiracy” that might oppose the initiative.
The apex court has not ruled out the Kalabagh Dam, he added, saying that it will be built after all provinces reach a consensus. Justice Nisar concluded his remarks by saying that the dams that are free of controversy and are not being opposed by anyone will be built first.
The chief justice ordered the federal government and the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) government to submit a report regarding the incident within the next 48 hours.
Besides, CJP Nisar also ordered the interior secretary and AJK secretary to submit a report of the incident.
16 SUSPECTS ARRESTED:
Meanwhile, spokesman of the GB government Faizullah Firaq said at least 16 suspects have been arrested after raids in the Tanager and Daryal areas of the region. Firaq told Pakistan Today that the arrested suspects were shifted to Darel Tangir police station for further investigation.
“The attack on girls’ school was part of a conspiracy against peace in the region,” he claimed, adding that a search operation was taking place across the district and more people would be arrested with the help of local jirga.
Another girls’ primary school in Phukaij village of Diamer’s Darem tehsil was torched on Friday night, taking the total number of schools attacked in the GB to 13, locals and police officials said.
While the law enforcement agencies are yet to identify those involved in attacking and torching 12 girls’ schools including two Army Public Schools (APS) in Diamer district of Gilgit-Baltistan, sources claim that locals were used for the shameful incidents as no one has been arrested so far.
JIRGA ASKED TO STEP IN:
A GB government official, on the condition of anonymity, revealed that the writ of the state was still not established in the region as the police had requested local jirga leaders to handover the miscreants. He said: “The government and law enforcement agencies are following the traditional way of dealing with the miscreants through jirga system which has previously failed to avoid such attacks.”
“No one here is asking about those preachers (religious clerics) who are actually motivating the miscreants to discourage girls education,” he added, highlighting that even the local public representatives and the lawmakers did not have the courage to speak the truth.
Only 14 FIRs have so far been registered against the miscreants under the anti-terrorism law.
“Although the locals claim to support any move against the miscreants, they still don’t have the courage to expose those flaming the hatred against girls education in the area,” he said.
According to another official in Chilas, there were at least 20 to 30 people wanted by the law enforcers in similar cases of attacks on girls schools in Diamer, but now the number has crossed 100.
He claimed that the local police usually avoids conducting any serious operation against these suspects.
Diamer Commissioner Syed Abdul Waheed Shah believes that there are no Taliban militants in the area, however, extremists who oppose female education are present.
According to a local journalist Meraj Alam, residents of the area are largely tight-lipped as they know who was behind the attacks. “Attacks on different girls’ schools in different villages, towns and cities of the district took place simultaneously which is a clear indication that the elements within the local residents were motivated against female education and they are behind the attacks,” he said.
Earlier, caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk ordered the authorities to submit a report on the attack on girls’ schools.