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Pakistan

Web Desk
September 14, 2020

Lahore CCPO Umar Sheikh issues apology for insensitive statement in motorway rape case

Pakistan

Web Desk
Mon, Sep 14, 2020
Lahore's Capital City Police Officer (CCPO), Mohammad Umar Sheikh, said: "I apologise to my sister who was subjected to the gang-rape, as well as my sisters, brothers, and all strata of the society." Geo News/via The News

LAHORE: The city's top cop on Monday issued a public apology for his seemingly insensitive statement — wherein he engaged in victim-blaming — in a motorway gang-rape case that has shook the entire country and sparked protests across Pakistan.

"I neither had any ill-intention nor did I imply anything wrong," Lahore's Capital City Police Officer (CCPO), Mohammad Umar Sheikh, said in a public apology issued after a meeting with Punjab Governor Mohammad Sarwar.

"I apologise if my statement has hurt or offended anyone," the city's top cop said. "I apologise to my sister who was subjected to the gang-rape, as well as my sisters, brothers, and all strata of the society."

'No way the victim can be blamed'

CCPO Sheikh had earlier blamed the survivor of the Sept 9 gang-rape incident for choosing the route she drove through, saying she should have checked her petrol tank before getting on the said route. His comments causes furor across the country, with many demanding he be fired and questioning how anyone could trust such men to handle sensitive cases of sexual violence.

"I am surprised that a mother of three, a lone driver [...] after leaving Defence should have taken the straight route from GT Road — a generally well-populated area," he had said.

The inspector-general (IG) of police for Punjab, Inam Ghani, had on the weekend refused to defend Sheikh;s victim-blaming comments, stressing that in "no way the victim can be blamed for the horrific event".

"The guard cannot tell the owner of the house to protect their belongings themselves," Ghani had said.

'Unneeded controversy' of CCPO's comments

Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat, too, had termed the CCPO’s statement "inappropriate", maintaining that neither approved nor agreed with whatever the CCPO had said earlier.

While the federal government had conveyed its objections to the Lahore CCPO, Planning Minister Asad Umar and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior, Shahzad Akbar both defended the cop, with the latter saying he saw "an unneeded controversy was created out of the CCPO's earlier statement".

"I have spoken to him about it, he will tell you himself what he meant by it," Akbar had said. He also explained that the cop was "conveyed objections of [the federal government] on his remarks yesterday".

"It is [the] responsibility of all govt functionaries esp police to ensure safety for all," the adviser had said on Twitter.

Comments were 'inappropriate'

Umar, on the other hand, had said Sheikh did not say "anything illegal".

"What action should we take against the CCPO? That he did not make a good statement?" he had asked, over calls for the CCPO's removal.

A written explanation had been sought from the CCPO, with a warning issued to him "against making such remarks in the future", Akbar had said, adding that the police officer's comments were "inappropriate" and that Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar had sought a written explanation from him.

Earlier today, the Lahore High Court also took up the matter, saying the entire federal Cabinet should apologise for Sheikh's 'victim-blaming' comments.

The city's top court in a seething statement Monday asked: "What kind of investigation is this where the CCPO is saying the victim is wrong?

'Strict action to reassure this nation's daughters'

"A lot of ministers issued distasteful statements," LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan said, wondering if it was "an investigation or a drama".

"What action has been taken on the CCPO's comments," he asked, to which the government's lawyer said the matter was "being investigated".

"Are you saying the CCPO's comments are being investigated," the judge asked, to which the lawyer responded: "No, the entire matter."

"There should have been strict action to reassure this nation's daughters," Justice Khan said, adding that everyone involved should be called to the court.