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Protesters slam ministers for ‘anti-human attitude’ over Sahiwal tragedy

Updated January 23, 2019

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CIVIL society activists protest outside the press club on Tuesday.—White Star
CIVIL society activists protest outside the press club on Tuesday.—White Star

KARACHI: “Stop killing innocent citizens in the name of law and order; State terrorism is a crime; Stop the illegal use of weapons!”

These were just some of the slogans being chanted by the enraged protesters gathered outside the Karachi Press Club on Tuesday to register their shock and sorrow over and condemn the Sahiwal incident which they referred to as “state-sponsored lawlessness against citizens”.

The protesters, including Zahra Khan of the Home-based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF), Nasir Mansoor of the National Trade Union Federation, Karamat Ali of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler), Habibuddin Junaidi of the Peoples Labour Bureau, Hussain Badshah of the Dock Workers Union, Saira Feroze of the United Workers Federation, Nuzhat Shireen of the Sindh Commission on Status of Women, Sajjad Zaheer of the Anjuman Taraqqi Pasand Musanifeen Karachi, columnist Comrade Zubair Rehman, among many others, said that only resistance of the masses could stop the growing incidents of state-sponsored lawlessness against citizens.

Demand judicial probe into the ‘extrajudicial’ killings

In a joint statement issued by them on the occasion, they said that the Sahiwal tragedy and incidents like that were proof of growing lawlessness by those who were supposed to protect the law. They said that they were actually terrorists themselves in the garb of law enforcement agencies. They expressed their profound sorrow over the failure of all state institutions to protect innocent citizens.

“It is sad that the elected representatives are trying to hush up these sensitive issues. This anti-human attitude is adopted by the provincial and federal ministers of the PTI government over the Sahiwal tragedy. They are trying to save the culprits behind the tragedy.

“The continuity of such incidents has once again proved that instead of providing safety of life to the citizens, the state is playing with their lives. To stop this maltreatment we the masses have to start an organised struggle. Otherwise, these incidents would not only continue but intensify,” read the statement.

“The previous day, another such incident also occurred in Karachi when a couple were injured in police firing. Also in Karachi last year, Naqeebullah Mehsud, an aspiring model, was killed by a so-called police encounter specialist, Rao Anwar, after being dubbed as terrorist. However, action against Rao Anwar is yet to be completed. Similarly, an innocent child, Amal, was also killed in a fake police action.

“Such incidents are occurring continually in Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. However, no punishment could be given to the officials involved in these murders. Instead they were given all sorts of protection and their acts were termed in the best national interest.

“The citizens demand that state institutions should be stopped from extrajudicial murders, illegal and unnecessary use of weapons. We demand that a judicial commission should be constituted to probe the Sahiwal tragedy and all the culprits should be given exemplary punishments,” the statement concluded.

“As has been seen in the past, the rulers would have declared the culprits of the Sahiwal incidents as heroes and termed the victims as terrorists had the citizens not resorted to protest over this matter. It is sad that despite protests the police first lodged an FIR against the victims themselves. But it was thanks to public pressure that they lodged another FIR against ‘unknown’ culprits,” said Zahra Khan of the HBWWF.

“The government also rejected the public demand to set up a judicial commission and instead ordered forming a JIT, which shows that the sitting government is not serious to take the killers to task,” said Karamat Ali of Piler.

“The entire country is sad over the Sahiwal tragedy and the masses are very angry and charged. However, the illegal activities and extrajudicial killings by the law enforcers are yet to be stopped,” said Saira Feroze of the United Workers Federation.

Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2019