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LAHORE, Jan 17: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan on Thursday condemned the killing of around 20 civilians in Khyber Agency and demanded that the claims made by the families that the deceased were killed by security personnel must be probed independently and to the families’ satisfaction.

In a statement, the commission said: “HRCP condemns unreservedly the brutal killing of around 20 people in Bara tehsil of Khyber Agency. The families of the deceased had brought their bodies to Peshawar, where they protested outside Governor’s House and later the Peshawar Press Club, demanding action against the murderers of their dear ones, many of who they claimed were in military custody before their bodies were found.

This is about the most serious charge that can be brought against any security force and needs to be investigated independently and in a manner that inspires confidence of the families. In fact, one would expect both the government and the security forces to be much keener than even the aggrieved families, to promptly and independently investigate the circumstances of the killings.

HRCP takes a lot of heart from the fact that the wronged in Pakistan have increasingly decided to come out to draw attention to violations of rights in a peaceful manner and to seek redress of excesses. It is difficult to imagine the desperation of those who believe that their only shot at getting justice is to not bury a dear one wrongfully robbed of life until they are publicly promised justice by someone in a position of sufficient authority.

Those at the helm of affairs should try and imagine what possesses people to do that and how terribly things have gone awry if more and more people feel compelled to follow that path. Rather than using tear gas and batons to deal with the people, their demands should be heard with compassion, and the truth of the matter established in a manner that enjoys the confidence of the aggrieved. HRCP welcomes the fact that a judicial probe has been ordered into the killings and hopes that unlike similar probes in the past, the findings of this one will see the light of day.”

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