Payment to Tirah victims: PHC issues notices to senior officials over contempt

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Tuesday issued notices to secretaries of the ministries of defence and finance, as well as the Fata secretariat additional secretary, for non-payment of compensation amount to victims of a 2010 aerial bombardment in Tirah Valley.

The notices were issued by a PHC division bench, headed by Justice Yahya Afridi, on a contempt of court petition filed by advocate Qabil Shah.  Shah had argued that Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fighter jets erroneously bombarded Tirah Valley and killed and injured several innocent civilians.

After failing to get compensation from the government, the affected families moved the PHC and the latter ordered the government to pay the compensation amount to the affected families.

He argued that the PHC had ordered the government to pay Rs0.2 million to each injured but so far out of 81 injured only 21 had been paid an amount of Rs80,000 each.

“Non-payment of full compensation amount is a violation of court order and is tantamount to contempt,” he argued, while requesting the bench to initiate contempt proceedings.

At least 61 tribesmen were killed and more than 80 injured when fighter jets intending to target militant hideouts bombed a civilian area in Seravela, Tirah Valley in Khyber Agency on April 10, 2010.

On December 20, 2012 the court observed that the chief of army staff had confessed that the tribesmen had been mistakenly killed and the government was now bound to pay ‘blood money’.

The then deputy attorney general Iqbal Mohmand and wing commander Muhammad Irfan had requested the court to change the title ‘blood money’ with ‘compensation’ because ‘blood money’ would give the impression that locals had been intentionally targeted.

They had said federal government officials were concerned over providing ‘blood money’ to legal heirs of the victims because it was an error committed by the pilot.

However, the bench headed by former PHC chief justice Dost Muhammad Khan had observed it was the state’s responsibility to protect its citizens and a reasonable compensatory amount must be provided.

On May 15, 2013, the PHC was informed that killed persons’ families had been given Rs600,000 each as compensation. However, the PHC directed the federal government to also pay an additional amount Rs400,000 each to the legal heirs of those killed.

By Fawad Ali Published in The Express Tribune


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