Nawaz orders impartial investigation into Rawalpindi incident

Updated November 20, 2013

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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.—AFP/File Photo
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.—AFP/File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday directed police authorities to carry out a fair and impartial investigation into the Rawalpindi riots and sectarian clashes that led to at least 11 deaths.

He gave the directive while chairing a high-level meeting on law and order at the Prime Minister House in Islamabad.

Taking strong exception over the role of the police in the Rawalpindi incident, the Prime Minister said the police should have taken preemptive action to avert the incident.

During the meeting, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Punjab Khan Baig gave a detailed briefing over the incident.

Admitting failure of the local police authorities, the IGP told the meeting that the Rawalpindi incident resulted into 11 causalities and injuries to 56 people.

He said that all deaths resulted due to use of firearms and refuted claims from some quarters about missing persons in the tragic incident.

The Inspector General informed the meeting that nine perpetrators involved in this incident had been apprehended after their identification with the aid of video footage obtained from media organisations.

The prime minister expressed grave displeasure over the criminal inaction and laxity of the police authorities. “Law-enforcement authorities must not show any laxity in dealing with such incidents. Speech inciting hatred, stone pelting and firing are unacceptable crimes,” he added.

He directed that criminal silence on the part of administration and police on the propagation of sectarian hatred through loud speakers and wall chalking would not be tolerated. He further directed to take strict action against those, who have no regard for law and order.

Taking note of the negative role played by the social media during the tragic incident, the Prime Minister directed the authorities concerned to present the draft Cyber Law within days.

Minister for Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Minister for Information Senator Pervez Rashid, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Khawaja Zaheer Ahmed, Punjab Minister for Law Rana Sanaullah, DG ISI Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam, DG IB Aftab Sultan and senior officials of the Prime Minister's Office, Interior Ministry and Punjab Government attended the meeting.

Senate body to hold hearing to ‘ascertain facts’

Meanwhile, sources said that the Senate Committee on Interior will soon hold a hearing to get to the root causes of the Rawalpindi incident.

According to sources, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Interior Talha Mahmood will summon officers of Punjab police and other witnesses who were present at the time of incident.

The committee has approached the interior ministry, which will contact the Home Department Punjab to formally summon police officers responsible for the security of the Muharram procession.

Commenting on the incident during a Senate committee meeting, Talha Mahmood said he had first hand information that a big conspiracy was being hatched by staging incidents like the killings in Rawalpindi.

The incident will have its implications in the future as well, he added.

The senator said local people were not involved as the Muharram procession was away at Fawara Chowk when the incident happened.

Some people belonging to Parachinar wearing black dresses came and allegedly caused all the trouble, he claimed.

He said about 40 policemen disappeared from the scene when the situation deteriorated.

The committee would record statements of officials who were looking after security around the main Muharram procession on Ashura, the senator added.

He said 170 shops were burnt in the Raja Bazaar causing loss of billions of rupees.