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Lest We Forget: When A Generation Of Quetta’s Lawyers Was Brutally Massacred

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On this day in 2016, a suicide attack at Civil Hospital in Quetta saw almost the entire legal fraternity of Balochistan decimated.

The lawyers had gathered at the hospital to mourn the death of Bilal Anwar Kasi, the Balochistan Bar Association president who was gunned down in a targetted attack.

“The bomber struck as more than 100 mourners, mostly lawyers and journalists, crowded into the emergency department to accompany the body of Advocate Bilal Anwar Kasi,” a journalist who was wounded in the attack had recalled.

Though Balochistan has remained a target of militant groups for decades, this attack was one of the deadliest in its history. It killed over 70 people, mostly lawyers, leaving the judicial system of the province in a lurch. A shortage of lawyers in the city had also resulted in delayed litigation.

Soon after the attack, then Balochistan chief minister Sanaullah Zehri and then home minister Sarfraz Bugti accused Indian spy agency Raw of orchestrating the attack. However, a commission formed by the government to probe the attack blamed intelligence failure for the attack. The commission headed by then Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa had said: “If the functionaries of the state had established a bank of forensic information on past attacks, and pursued the cases, they might have prevented the attacks of August 8.”

The commission had also criticised the interior ministry for its ‘monumental failure’ to keep a check on proscribed organisations and the non-implementation of the National Action Plan.

The commission put forward a number of recommendations to plug the loopholes in the intelligence and law enforcement system, but these findings have yet to be implemented. And Balochistan keeps on facing the brunt of the failed government policies and security lapses.

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Justice Isa who authored the commission report didn’t hold back while pointing out the lapses of the government and the intelligence. The SC judge faced a reference in the Supreme Judicial Council, for allegedly concealing assets owned by his wife.

Though the reference has been quashed, the case has been referred to the Federal Board of Revenue for further inquiry. Many analyst think that case against the SC judge is a part of a witch-hunt against the dissenting members of the superior judiciary.

 

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Naya Daur