ISLAMABAD: The joint opposition in the Senate Monday rejected the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) on the Sahiwal incident, billing it a bid to cover up the matter, as the treasury and opposition accused each other of doing political point-scoring on the killings.
The National Assembly also witnessed strong protest on the issue on Monday.
The senators alleged that unlike in the West, the police in Pakistan are a symbol of fear and insecurity and public is more afraid of them than dacoits and other criminals. Senate Chairman Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani had to allow a discussion in the House on the matter, as the opposition insisted on setting aside the listed business and allowing them to express their anger over the incident.
The issue of extrajudicial killings also echoed in the House and senators demanded an end to this tradition, as legislators called for ensuring the rule of law and strict adherence to the Constitution. The legislators accused the government and the police of changing stances every two-three hours on the matter. The first sitting of the 286th session was a private members day.
At the very outset, on a point of public importance, Leader of the Opposition Raja Muhammad Zafarul Haq demanded an open discussion in the Senate and transparent investigation into the incident to take the culprits to task. He asserted, “We reject the so-called JIT and want action in real sense and fixing of responsibility”. Jamaat-e-Islami’s Senator Sirajul Haq called for audit of all the killings carried out by CTD so far. One senator called for hanging the culprits publicly. PPP Senator Sherry rejected outrightly the government’s stance on the issue and pointed out that the ever-changing stances of the federal and Punjab governments had created serious concerns among masses. “Now they are being haunted by camera,” she remarked, referring to various clips, viral on social media regarding the incident.
“We have been told that the police action was on the basis of proper planning, whereas the provincial government declared the victims terrorists and even if it was so. Was there no way other than spraying bullets on them,” she wondered.
Sherry said they had never heard of formation of JIT on such incidents in the past while people had started wondering if they should go out with children. “Whether it is the case of Rao Anwar or anyone else, human rights must be protected and there should be an end to extra-judicial killings,” she added.
PTI Senator Faisal Javed said Prime Minister Imran Khan had assured that strict action would be taken against those responsible for the unfortunate incident. He said PTI government would never spare any wrongdoer.
Senator Javed Abbasi of PML-N lamented while the government was in place and the National Assembly and the Senate in session, the police was resorting to hooliganism. He added amid chants of shame that before kids, their parents were shot dead.
“This incident would have far-reaching repercussions. People have already attacked the police. Is the country being taken to civil war,” asked Senator Rubina Khalid of PPP.
PkMAP Senator Usman Kakar said Punjab government claimed that the Counter Terrorism Department took action on the basis of intelligence reports that some terrorists were traveling in the vehicle intercepted near Sahiwal. He said strict action should be taken against those, who provided wrong intelligence. He emphasised saying those, who were responsible for this incident should be punished within one month after completing detailed probe.
Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini of BNP-Mengal said no politics should be made over this matter and everyone should join forces for a fair probe into this incident. He said killings in Balochistan had become a routine and no one was bothered to take care of this. He demanded a parliamentary commission comprising opposition and the treasury benches to probe the Sahiwal incident.
Sitara Ayaz of ANP said on the one hand, the Punjab government announced compensation for the deceased, while on the other hand, CTD termed them terrorists. She said the government had formed a JIT to cover-up the matter. She questioned whether previous JITs had ever produced any result, referring to the killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud.
Before the discussion began, opposition senators agitated on the issue while Leader of the House Syed Shibli Faraz said the entire nation was in shock over the incident and regarding it, a JIT had been formed already which would submit its report within two days.
Giving his ruling on Sahiwal incident, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, referred the matter to Senate Standing Committee on Interior with a direction to the panel to immediately take up the matter and present a comprehensive report after complete investigation within one week to the House.
Meanwhile, strong protest was lodged in the National Assembly on Shaiwal as treasury and opposition indulged in blame game.
Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi while assuring the action against the culprits involved in the tragic incident of Sahiwal and proposed to the opposition to hand over all the incidents including the Model Town, incident of killing of Naqeebullah Mahsud and similar incident to the military courts.
The debate in the National Assembly on tragic incident of Sahiwal was initiated after suspending the rules.
Opposition leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif while raising the issue of the tragic incident of the Sahiwal incident on a point of order in the National Assembly and called for the parliamentary committee to examine the Joint Investigation Authority report.
Shahbaz Sharif said he will not allow the government to take a sigh of relief over the Sahiwal shootout without getting the real facts of the incident.
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 Prime Minister Imran Khan but the premier has to answer government's position before the nation," he said adding that here are no appointments in Punjab without PM Imran's approval.
Shahbaz Sharif said the PML-N will not politicise the Sahiwal Incident like the incident of Model Town and Kasur incidents. “The similar incident also happened in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa but the PML-N rather than politicising the Punjab government provided the service of Punjab forensic laboratory.
He said the nation wanted to know the fact. ‘The prime minister used to stage a dharna but we will not stage a dharna. However, we will not allow government to take a sigh of relief over the Sahiwal shootout without getting the real facts of the incident.
Former defence minister Khawaja Asif said that the Sahiwal incident showed that those responsible for ending terrorism in the country, themselves have become terrorists.
"A parliamentary committee, instead of a JIT, should be made on the Sahiwal incident," he said.
Minister for Human Rights Dr 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.
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