Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar said on Friday that the security officials who allowed Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) member Zamarud Khan to lunge at the gunman in Islamabad a day earlier would be suspended.
Gunman Sikandar Hayat accompanied by his wife and children brought Islamabad to a standstill on Thursday by waving two sub-machine guns and occasionally firing into the air.
The standoff that lasted for five hours eventually ended after Sikandar and his wife were shot and arrested when the PPP member lunged at him.
However, while addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Nisar hailed Zamarud’s bravery but noted that the situation could have gone either way.
“The policemen shot Sikandar in the chest and on his leg after Zamarud stepped in. The third bullet hit his wife,” Nisar said, “but we had wanted to avoid all casualties.”
“We didn’t want any firing,” he added, claiming that Sikandar Hayat was two kilometres away from the Red Zone.
The interior minister said that when he was told of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Nabeel Gabol’s arrival at the site, he urged that he be kept away, saying that “security measures should be left to the security agencies.”
Talking about the demands made by Sikandar, he said that his first demand was for the release of his son, who is imprisoned in Dubai.
“Secondly, he said that he wanted employment here at any embassy,” he stated, adding that the armed man was not connected to any terrorist organisation but was not mentally sound.
Response of the security forces
Nisar said that they could have easily fired at Sikandar but “there was no guarantee that he wouldn’t have fired back.”
He also said that there was no guarantee that the firing would have incapacitated him.
The interior minister said that openly flaunting weapons is completely banned in the country, asserting that “even if we get a call about firing, we take action.”
‘Media should also take responsibility’
Condemning how the media covered the operation live, the interior minister said that restrictions should be placed on the media so this doesn’t happen in the future.
“We had made a plan to switch all the street lights off and then carry out an operation in the dark but Zamarud had already stepped in,” he said, claiming that they just wanted “15 minutes” from the media.
“I could have asked media to back off completely but this would have caused another crisis,” the interior minister said, adding that the incident should serve as a lesson for times to come.
The interior minister further said that he is planning to talk to Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) about it.