The Senate Standing Committee on Interior on Tuesday 'rejected' a joint investigation team (JIT) formed to probe the Sahiwal incident, in which four people were killed by Counter Terrorism Department officials.
The committee made the decision after recording the testimony of the mother of Zeeshan — one of the four people who were shot in the 'encounter' — who said she had no confidence in the JIT's investigation.
"We are not satisfied with the JIT's investigation," she told the panel. "The police that are investigating [the incident] are the ones who committed the killings," she alleged, calling upon the prime minister to provide justice to the bereaved families.
"All we want is justice," she said.
PML-N Senator Javed Abbasi, who was also part of the panel, criticised the provincial ministers and accused them of lying about the Sahiwal incident. His remarks prompted a sharp reaction from PTI's Azam Swati, who said that it had been agreed that this incident will not be politicised. Abbasi, however, stuck to his statements. He also rejected the JIT and said: "Police are involved in the killings, they will not do justice."
"The committee rejected the JIT, Senate rejected the JIT, then what capacity is this JIT working in?" he asked, demanding that the government form a judicial commission to probe the matter.
He also pointed out that the ministers had changed their statements on the incident more than once.
The committee members collectively demanded that the government form a judicial commission. The panel also directed the interior secretary to investigate the changing statements of provincial ministers.
Zeeshan's mother, while recording her statement, also protested the "terrorist" label that Zeeshan had been slapped with.
"They killed my son and then they labelled him as a terrorist," she lamented.
The Senate panel, chaired by foreign interior minister Rehman Malik, assured her that justice will be done and said that they will not allow anyone to pressurise the families of the deceased.
Malik condemned the incident, terming it a "targeted killing" and adding: "I will refer to those who were killed as martyrs."
Zeeshan's mother said that her family had been living in the same house for the past 25 years. She told the panel that Zeeshan had studied computer sciences and was the "sole breadwinner of the family". He sold computers, taught in a school and gave lectures in a college as well, she said.
The deceased's mother asked that even if the CTD had termed Zeeshan as a terrorist, why did they not arrest him alive.
"An Indian spy was also caught alive, why wasn't Zeeshan arrested alive?" she demanded. She criticised the ministers for "calling Zeeshan a terrorist on television".
"Don't they (ministers) have any manners?" she said.
Zeeshan's brother, who had also appeared before the panel, told the committee that his mother had brought both brothers up by working as a maid. He said that the deceased did not have any police record.
'Will not allow violation of law'
Talking to the media after the meeting, Malik said that he had written a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, who also holds the portfolio of interior minister, to "answer the call of the nation" and form a judicial commission to investigate the Sahiwal killings. He said that the interior minister had the authority to form such a commission.
Malik added that though the matter of the Sahiwal incident was already in court, the court will not begrudge the federal government for forming a judicial commission as the complainant of the case had approached the judiciary to demand the same.
"It is better that you (interior minister) take the initiative (and form a judicial commission)," he said and added that if the demand was not fulfilled, the matter will be raised in the House. The former interior minister also said that all parties had agreed over the demand of a commission.
He commended the chief minister of Punjab for taking immediate action and arresting the officials involved in the killings.
He also clarified that the panel had not summoned the families of the deceased earlier.
Malik said that the parliament will not dismiss the sacrifices of law enforcement agencies because of the crimes of a few officers.
"We will appreciate the [sacrifices of the forces] on record because will not discourage anyone. But will also not allow violation of law," he declared.