PAKISTAN: AHRC condemns the attack at the venue of the meeting at which the Chief Justice was to speak and calls for an inquiry into the incident
A bomb blast in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, close to the venue where Chief Justice Iftehkar Chaudhry was scheduled to address lawyers, killed about 20 persons and injured more than 50, six of whom are in serious condition. Immediately following the blast the government announced that it had been a suicide bomb attack. However, statements, taken at the scene from eye witnesses and shortly afterwards from witnesses in their hospital beds would appear to indicate that it was not a suicide bomb as the explosion erupted from beneath the debris of an building under construction, located next to a reception stall set up by a political party.
The blast happened near the district courts, adjacent to the headquarters of Islamabad Police. Dozens of political workers chanting anti-Musharraf slogans were present at the time, while hundreds of lawyers waited inside the convention venue for the Chief Justice, who was a few hundred yards away.
Office bearers of the different legal bodies, including the President of Supreme Court Bar Association, vice chairman of the Pakistan Bar Council and lawyers of the Chief Justice accused government for sabotaging the lawyers¡¦ movement. As a result the lawyers and their associations have decided to boycott the courts throughout the country for the next two days.
This bomb blast has occurred just after 5 days when Pakistan Army had completed its operation against Red Mosque in which over 120 people, mostly students, were killed.
The Asian Human Rights Commission condemns the senseless death of innocent civilians. The attack on the welcoming stalls erected outside the venue where the Chief Justice was scheduled to address the District Bar Association of Islamabad occurred just five minutes before his arrival, which would appear to indicate that it was meant to intimidate, if not seriously injure or even kill the Chief Justice. This incident is a clear indication of the government¡¦s inability to provide protection to the highest judicial officers of the country. Notice of the rally was sent out five days earlier so there can be no excuse that the government was unable to prepare security.
The AHRC has already raised its concerns that the government of General Musharraf intends to create a situation that will justify the imposition of emergency rule in the country. It is of great concern to the AHRC that within a week the capital of Pakistan has seen so many bloody incidents resulting in the death of over two hundred people. The continued bloody incidents simultaneously in the different parts of the country and so many killings during different attacks, including those on more than two dozen security personnel show that the government is planning to take advantage of the bloodshed to impose some ultra constitution steps in the country.
The AHRC calls on the government to inquire into this attack and to bring the perpetrators to justice. Until this happens it is quite natural for the public to suspect that the military government itself was behind this attack