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Parliament strongly condemned Sahiwal incident

22 January, 2019

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Opposition lawmakers in both houses of Parliament on Monday strongly condemned the shady encounter by Punjab Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) near Sahiwal and demanded a parliamentary probe into the tragedy, while the government assured that ‘exemplary punishment’ would be given to those found guilty.

The routine agenda was set aside in National Assembly as well as Senate to discuss the tragic incident in which four people, three of the same family, were killed by the CTD personnel.

“The act of terrorism has been carried out by the counter-terrorism department, then whom to blame,” the opposition questioned. They also recalled speeches by Imran Khan and Ali Mohammad Khan wherein they had asserted that the State would be responsible if injustice was held with any person. Though both opposition and government sides claimed that there would be no political point-scoring over the Sahiwal incident, they continued to blame each other in one or another pretext.

“We will not politicize the matter, but the recommendations of the joint investigation team (JIT), formed to probe the incident, should be revealed before the nation,” Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif said in his speech in the National Assembly. He demanded that the culprits should be awarded an ‘exemplary punishment’. He said the world saw the CTD personnel, some of them in plainclothes, opening indiscriminate fire on a family in front of the children. He said the CTD tried to prove the shootout a genuine encounter, but children of the deceased family exposed them. “The ruling party, while being in the opposition in the past, tried to get political mileage on the incidents of Model Town and Kasur’s Zainab case,” Shehbaz claimed. “We will not observe sit-in on the matter but never let government to calm until revealing of the facts into the incident,” he maintained.

Criticizing Prime Minister Imran Khan, the opposition leader said he reacted late on the matter, and added that the Punjab government took six to seven U-turns on the alleged encounter in 24 hours. He said the Punjab government should tell why it changed its stance on the incident for as many as eight times in last 24 hours. “We don’t want to do politics over the sad incident unlike Imran Khan but the prime minister has to answer government’s position before the nation,” he said. “There are no appointments in Punjab without PM Imran’s approval,” he added.

Former defence minister Khawaja Asif said the Sahiwal incident showed that those responsible for ending terrorism in the country have themselves become ‘terrorists’. A parliamentary committee instead of a JIT should be made on the incident, he demanded. “The statements of Punjab government and CTD officials clearly show the contradiction,” he said, adding that the ministers changing their statements created suspicion into the killings of innocent people. Former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said the Punjab government instead of bringing the killers to the justice is defending them. “What sort of Madina-like state this is. For goodness’ sake, don’t call it Madina-like state. Should a bouquet be presented to children whose parents were killed in broad daylight,” he said in his speech.

Federal Minister for Hurman Rights Shireen Mazari accused the opposition members of doing politics over the sad incident. “Why was no parliamentary committee made on Naqeebullah case? Why was no punishment given to the people involved in Model Town killings when Asif was the defence minister?” she questioned.

State Minister for Interior Shehryar Afridi assured the National Assembly that exemplary punishment would be given to those responsible for the killing of the innocent people. “Let us wait for the JIT report, which will be submitted Tuesday,” he said, adding that not even a single person can justify the incident. He asked the opposition parties to get united to introduce comprehensive police reforms.

National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar said Sahiwal incident was very serious, and that debate over it will be continue on Tuesday as well.

The Upper House, meanwhile, rejected the formation of the JIT for investigation into the killings. Opposition Leader in Senate Raja Zafarul Haq said the opposition rejected the formation of JIT to probe the tragic incident. He regretted that two FIRs had been registered into the tragedy.

PPP parliamentary leader Sherry Rehman also condemned the ‘extrajudicial’ killing and demanded an end to the culture. She also rejected the formation of the JIT, terming it a bid to cover up the incident. She regretted that the Punjab government had declared the victims as terrorists. She demanded that Senate standing committee on interior affairs should investigate the incident and present report in the House.

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