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March 19, 2019

JIT records Shahbaz’s statement in Model Town killings case

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March 19, 2019

LAHORE: Former chief minister Punjab and president of Pakistan Muslim League-N Shahbaz Sharif appeared before a joint investigation team (JIT) probing the 2014 Model Town shooting in which 14 workers of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) were killed and 85 wounded, and recorded his statement.

According to sources, the JIT questioned him for about 45 minutes during which he stated that the firing incident was not planned beforehand, and the police were not ordered to open fire. He said the incident was the result of clashes with protesters, which pushed the situation out of control.

He said the allegations of planned firing at the PAT workers were baseless. Shahbaz was also asked why Mushtaq Sukhera was brought from Balochistan to the Punjab province in haste. Why he did not stop the police action when he came to know about the firing? If he had ordered the police to stop firing and the police did not, then what action did he take as chief minister against those involved in the incident? He was asked if his government had barred the PAT Chairman Tahirul Qadri from coming to Pakistan by conveying message to him by Fayyaz Warraich and Khurram Nawaz Gandapur. However, it is not known what answers did he give.

Earlier, the investigation team had rejected a request made by Shahbaz Sharif for recording his statement without appearing before the JIT. The Home Department had formed the joint investigation team (JIT) earlier this year to restart the investigation after the PAT leadership had expressed lack of confidence in the previous JIT by terming it biased as it was headed by an officer they considered loyal to the Shahbaz Sharif government.

The previous government, on the directions of the Lahore High Court had made the report for the Model Town incident public on Dec 5, 2017. The present JIT is headed by Inspector General (IG) Motorways AD Khawaja, and comprises Lt-Col Irfan Mirza from Military Intelligence (MI) and Lt-Col Mohammad Attiquz Zaman from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Others including Qamar Raza, DIG Police (Headquarters) Gilgit-Baltistan, Mohammad Ahmed Kamal and deputy director general of Intelligence Bureau are also part of the team.

The JIT could not visit Kot Lakhpat Jail Lahore to record the statement of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday. The JIT may record statement of Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday (today). Other PML-N leaders Pervaiz Rashid, Khwaja Asif and Rana Sanaullah have already appeared before the investigation team. According to sources, the JIT has recorded statements of 85 witnesses, while 90 officers of the Police Department also appeared before the JIT and recorded their statements about the incident.

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