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Judicial body to be formed if opposition dissatisfied with JIT report

Updated January 22, 2019

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Khalil and his wife Nabeela were killed along with their daughter and neighbour in an alleged encounter. — File photo
Khalil and his wife Nabeela were killed along with their daughter and neighbour in an alleged encounter. — File photo

LAHORE: The Punjab government on Monday agreed that a judicial commission would be constituted if the opposition was not satisfied with the report of a joint investigation team (JIT) probing the Sahiwal tragedy.

The government also informed the Punjab Assembly that the names of all suspects in the case had been placed on the no-fly list.

On the demand of the opposition members in the Punjab Assembly, Law Minister Basharat Raja assured the House that the government would form a judicial commission. “Rest assured we will not compromise on this serious matter. We will present the JIT report in the House and also take the opposition on board regarding action against the culprits. If this House feels the need for a judicial commission to probe the matter, it will be formed,” the minister announced.

Ministers Mian Aslam Iqbal and Chaudhry Zaheeruddin also assured the House about the formation of a judicial commission if the opposition was not satisfied with the JIT report, which they said would be shared with the government on Tuesday (today).

Opposition leader in the House Hamza Shahbaz expressed reservations over the formation of the JIT in haste, saying such a tragedy demanded formation of a judicial commission.

“We want the culprits to be hanged at the same place where they shot the innocent family dead,” Hamza demanded, raising questions over the performance of the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD).

He said the department had been set up to counter terrorism and equipped fully for the purpose. Without naming the CTD, he commented: “When the protectors of people’s lives turn killers, what does one do?”

He further said the opposition would not demand any resignations as the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) did in the past, but demanded the government bring forth “true facts” before the people and determine who was responsible.

PPP parliamentary leader Hasan Murtaza also demanded constitution of a judicial commission on the Sahiwal incident.

“Unlike the Model Town tragedy where two of the prime suspects (Dr Tauqeer Shah and senior police official Rana Jabbar) had managed to flee, the government has made sure that none of the suspects left the country,” Minister Zaheeruddin said and also endorsed public hanging of those responsible.

The lawmakers also discussed the conduct of the Punjab police, saying that there was a need to check police encounters. PML-N’s Malik Ahmed said the House would have to see what measures needed to be adopted to stop such incidents at the hands of police. “Extra-judicial killing can’t be allowed and justified,” he added.

Minister Iqbal said had the previous provincial government learned from the Model Town incident, what happened in Sahiwal could have been avoided. He said the culprits of the Model Town tragedy should also be hanged publically.

PTI’s Raja Yawar Kamal alleged the PML-N government had recruited “goons” in Punjab police because of which incidents like Sahiwal and Model Town took place. PML-N’s Mian Naseer demanded capacity building of police and other security institutions so that such incidents did not happen again.

PML-N’s Azma Bokhari raised a question over the contradictory statements of ministers and the CTD on the matter and said the JIT was summoning witnesses at the police lines, which amounted to discouraging them from recording their statements.

The opposition members also criticised Chief Minister Usman Buzdar for presenting a bouquet to the surviving children. PML-N lawmaker Khalil Tahir Sindhu expressed surprise as to how the chief minister presented a bouquet to the children whose parents had been shot dead in front of their eyes by police. He said a forensic expert was not included in the government’s JIT and how its report could be finalised without forensic evidence.

Deputy Speaker Dost Mazari, who was in the chair, said it should be ensured that such brutal incidents did not happen in the future.

Opposition member Waris Kalu pointed out quorum when the chair refused to drop other businesses of the House to dedicate Monday’s proceedings to the Sahiwal tragedy. The speaker adjourned the proceedings till Tuesday (today).

Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2019