The investigation into the Wazirabad shooting incident has faced hurdles right from the beginning
he police investigations into the shooting at former prime minister Imran Khan are headed nowhere. An FIR was finally registered at the Wazirabad city police station on November 8, after a delay of five days following orders from the Supreme Court. The police have arrested at least three suspects, including Naveed, the alleged gunman. The FIR has identified him as the principal suspect under charges of attempted murder and terrorism. The police account leaves no room for other gunmen on the scene who allegedly fired shots at the same time. This has left the investigations in a limbo.
Interestingly, the FIR places Wazirabad district in Gujranwala Division. However, since notifying it as a district, the government has included Wazirabad in the Gujrat Division. Police officials say the error will be rectified soon.
Investigation into the incident has faced hurdles right from the beginning due to serious legal and political issues that also delayed the registration of the FIR. On the one hand, Imran Khan has taken a tough stance regarding the registration of his complaint and on the other, the government has not tried to facilitate its arch political rival in this regard, apparently for fear of losing political standing.
Khan has openly accused the federal government of hatching a conspiracy to assassinate him and demanded that an FIR be registered against Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and a senior intelligence agency official. The demand, without producing any evidence, has placed Chief Minister Parvez Elahi in an awkward position. He has been reported as having instructed the IGP not to register such an FIR.
Parvez Elahi has apparently failed to bring Khan round to his view of the FIR so that when the FIR was finally registered, the latter rejected. PTI leaders have since then vowed to move courts for the registration of an FIR against those nominated by Khan.
While hearing the contempt of court proceedings against Imran Khan a day earlier, the chief justice of Pakistan had asked the Punjab Police inspector general why an FIR had not been registered. The IG had replied that the provincial government had restrained him in this respect. Chief Justice Umar Atta Bandial had then directed the IG to lodge a report within 24 hours.
Imran Khan had apparently been hit by bullets on both his legs. Another person died in the shooting incident and ten others were injured. Naveed, the confessed assailant, said he had acted alone. The injured included Khan’s close aides, Senator Faisal Javed, former Sindh governor Imran Ismail, Ahmad Nasir Chattha and Imran Yousaf.
According to eyewitnesses, as soon as Naveed pulled out the pistol to take a shot at Imran Khan, a local PTI supporter Ibtesam Hasan, who was standing nearby, saw him and tried to restrain him. Some witnesses have said that shots were also fired by somebody other than Naveed. Naveed was soon overpowered and arrested. Forensic lab findings may clarify the matter.
Apart from the delay in lodging the FIR, the absence of medico legal certificates is going to be major lacuna in the investigation and prosecution. An MLC is often seen as a prerequisite for investigating cases involving death and injuries. It is prepared by expert doctors in government hospitals. MLCs provide vital details about the nature of injuries that help identify the culprits with the help of direct or circumstantial evidence.
“Why did Imran Khan refuse a medico legal examination of his wounds? Being a seasoned politician, he knows how important the MLC is,” asked a senior police official, speaking to The News on Sunday. “Any government hospital nearby could have provided first aid as well as the MLC. He chose instead to go to Lahore, travelling by road,” he said.
Another police official said that medical examinations determine vital facts that help in investigations. These include the type and direction of bullet(s) fired, the distance from which they were fired. Without this information, the investigations would be handicapped, said another police officer. He said the unnecessary delay in lodging an FIR allowed vital forensic evidence to be lost or tampered with. He regretted that some PTI leaders had not allowed police access to the clothes Imran Khan had been wearing and those of his injured colleagues. He said that without those, the investigations will be hampered.
In a viral video the main suspect, appears to be confessing to having tried to kill Imran Khan. He also says he purchased the gun himself and was not instigated or aided by anybody.
The video created ripples in an already tense atmosphere as several PTI leaders called it a deliberate attempt to mislead the investigations. The Punjab government then suspended the entire staff of the police station. A police official told TNS that such statements were kept confidential. Without naming anyone, he said, the policemen involved in the video leak were apparently “under pressure” to do so.
The suspect has been found to have returned a few months ago from Saudi Arabia where he had worked as a plumber for several years. He had lived in a small house with a widowed mother, a wife and two sons. He is known in the neighbourhood as a meek, quiet person, with no known political affiliation. Police believe that Naveed is a drug addict and unreliable. The police have also arrested two relatives of Naveed, identified as Waqas and Faisal Butt.
The writer is a senior political reporter at The News International