Ahsan Jameel Gujjar, a respondent in the Supreme Court's suo motu case pertaining to the transfer of the former Pakpattan district police officer (DPO) Rizwan Gondal, on Tuesday submitted an unconditional apology to the court for his "unwarranted participation" in official matters.

Gujjar had been previously grilled over his presence in a meeting held at Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar's office in August, for which the CM had also summoned DPO Gondal and the Sahiwal regional police officer.

The meeting had been called to seek an explanation from the two police officers for two events in Pakpattan that had led to altercations between Khawar Fareed Maneka, a senior Customs officer and local influential, and the Pakpattan police.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, during various hearings of the suo motu case, had asked on multiple occasions in what capacity Gujjar had been present for the meeting.

Gujjar, considered a family friend of the Manekas, had previously stated that he was in the meeting to represent the Maneka children as their "guardian". However, the court had contested the claim of guardianship, noting that the Maneka children's own parents were very alive.

In the written apology tendered today, Gujjar said that he had gone to the meeting to present Khawar Maneka's perspective to the police officers.

"However, if his participation is considered unwarranted, he expresses his utmost remorse upon the same and he seeks unconditional apology from this Honourable Court," read the letter submitted to the court.

Gujjar said that he would make sure that his behaviour is always in accordance with the law. "I am a law-abiding citizen and believe in the rule of law," he said in his written apology.

The Pakpattan incident

Late on August 23 or early August 24, Khawar Maneka was flagged to stop at a security picket in Pakpattan by police, but he allegedly refused and raced ahead. The police had subsequently chased him down and forced him to stop, after which harsh words were exchanged between the two parties.

When Gondal's transfer orders started making rounds a few days later, it was widely speculated in news and social media that that the police officer was transferred because of the incident.

It was believed that the officer was transferred for refusing to apologise in person to Khawar Maneka over the altercation between him and the police.

It later transpired that there had been two incidents involving a run-in between the Maneka family and local and highway police, which had led to acrimony between Khawar Maneka and Pakpattan police.

The first of the run-ins had involved one of Maneka's daughters, who was allegedly manhandled by a police officer while on her way to Baba Farid's shrine earlier that month.

A report submitted by former Inspector General of Punjab Police Kaleem Imam to the court had stated that the chief minister had indeed summoned the Pakpattan DPO and the Sahiwal RPO without informing the IGP to settle matters. However, the report said that the CM had proceeded to act "only as an elder" to mediate between the parties in conflict.

The CM was very hospitable towards the police officers and during the meeting, which he "hosted", the report stated, adding that the two police officers were not harassed or pressurised in any way.

Imam, who is currently the Sindh Police chief, in his report further observed that the Punjab CM neither issued any written orders or gave any directives pertaining to the DPO's transfer. Instead, his report said, Buzdar had told the RPO to settle the issue himself, which "makes it clear that there was no interference in policing matters".

Gujjar's role

During the meeting, Gujjar had complained about the two incidents and the refusal of the police to address the "mistreatment" meted out to the Maneka family.

Gujjar, the report said, had also highlighted that the policemen had held the hand of Maneka's daughter and threatened the family.

He had also expressed suspicions that Maneka's brothers — who the family believed to be associated with a rival political party and were not on good terms with the family after Bushra's wedding with the PTI chief — had played a role in the entire episode.

Maneka's children had been under the impression that there was a conspiracy behind the entire episode, it emerged during that meeting.

According to the report, Gujjar had expressed his anger that the complaint was not addressed as he believed that the incident had unnecessarily deepened a divide in the Maneka family.

The report stated that the DPO had confidently clarified his position on the issue before the chief minister and the RPO.

He had also made it clear to Gujjar that if it was being expected that he would go to Maneka's dera (residence) and apologise in person, he would not be doing so.

The report quoted Gondal as saying that "DPOs don't go to the deras of people".

According to the report, the DPO had been miffed at the idea of meeting a stranger (Gujjar) as he felt it had been an attempt to pressurise him. He had felt like a stranger was grilling him in the presence of the chief minister and the RPO, the report elaborated.

The former IG Punjab's report was, however, rejected by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on September 17, who had ordered the National Counter Terrorism Authority chief, Maher Khaliq Dad Lak, to conduct an inquiry into the matter and submit a report to within 15 days.

That report is still forthcoming.

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