Senate panel to record statements of Sahiwal incident victim families

Published January 27, 2019
Senate Standing Committee on Interior chairman Rehman Malik addresses a press conference on Saturday.—Online
Senate Standing Committee on Interior chairman Rehman Malik addresses a press conference on Saturday.—Online

ISLAMABAD: Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior Rehman Malik has said that members of the victim families of the Jan 19 Sahiwal incident will soon be called for recording of their statements and seeking their viewpoints.

Speaking at a news conference here on Saturday, Mr Malik said the family members of those killed by the personnel of the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) in the controversial encounter in Sahiwal would be issued proper notices to attend the meeting and they would be brought to Islamabad from Lahore by official transport to be provided by the Senate Secretariat.

The media on Saturday reported that the members of the bereaved families had been brought to Islamabad for their meetings with President Arif Alvi, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and Rehman Malik.

Rehman Malik says families had not been issued notice for Friday’s meeting

However, both the President House and the Senate secretariat one after the other denied that any such meeting had been arranged with the victim families.

Mr Malik said the family members of the deceased Khalil, who was killed in the alleged encounter with his wife and a teenage daughter, and Zeeshan had been asked to bring with them their written statements so that these could be made part of the official record of the investigations.

The senator said he had already talked to Mr Jalil, a brother of Khalil.

Mr Malik refuted the media reports that the committee had called the family members of the Sahiwal tragedy victims for its meeting which was held on Friday.

When his attention was drawn to the presence of the family members in Islamabad on Friday, he said it was not in his knowledge, otherwise the family would have been brought to the meeting even without notices.

“I want to clarify it that the victim families had not been issued any notice for the Friday meeting,” he said, while showing a copy of the notice which was issued to the federal interior secretary, the Punjab home secretary, the inspector-general of police (IGP) Punjab, DIGs and DPOs of Sahiwal and Lahore.

He said he had written a comprehensive letter to the interior secretary on January 22 which carried 42 specific questions related to the Sahiwal incident. He said through the letter he had sought details of the family members of the Sahiwal victims for issuing notices seeking their point of view and written statements in the next meeting of the committee.

He said it was important to know the point of view of the bereaved families as they were the main complainants. Besides them, he said, the committee was also issuing notices to local councillors, MNAs and MPAs from Lahore and Sahiwal to seek their input on the incident. The committee, he said, would also invite the shopkeepers of the area where the alleged encounter took place.

Mr Malik said that the committee in its earlier report had called for setting up a judicial commission to probe the incident. He said that he had talked to Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar who had assured him of full cooperation. He said that it was appreciable that within 24 hours after presentation of the committee’s report in the Senate, six persons were arrested. He, however, said his committee would not consider reports of the Punjab government or the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) as final.

Mr Malik said the Sahiwal tragedy seemed to be a “target killing incident”.

He said the committee was monitoring the investigation process and waiting for the JIT’s final report. He said that after confession by the police that Khalil, his wife and daughter were innocent, the committee now wanted to know if Zeeshan was really a terrorist, as claimed by the police. He regretted that so far the police had only shown his selfie (picture) with one of the alleged terrorists, adding that he had categorically told the police that Zeeshan could not be considered a terrorist merely on the basis of a photograph.

Mr Malik said the Pakistan Army, police and other law enforcement agencies had rendered countless sacrifices in the war on terror. He added that the Sahiwal-like acts could be aimed at weakening institutions and creating a wedge between them.

Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2019

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