–Shehaz, Asif demand parliamentary body to probe Sahiwal incident, warn House won’t function unless govt tells nation the truth
–Asif says police wouldn’t be this bold had former Malir SSP Rao Anwar been punished
–Mazari says police inherited encounter culture from PML-N, urges police reforms in Punjab and Sindh
ISLAMABAD: The Sahiwal encounter that has sent shockwaves across the nation also echoed in the National Assembly on Monday when the opposition lashed out at the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government over its failure to “rein in” the law enforcement agencies.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMNL-N) had submitted an adjournment motion in the House after the Punjab Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) killed four people, including a couple and their teenage daughter, in suspicious encounter near Sahiwal.
Though the CTD labelled the deceased [alleged] terrorists working for Islamic State in its initial statement, the statement of the eyewitnesses differed from the official version.
At the outset of National Assembly session, Shehbaz called for the suspension of regular proceedings so a debate could be held on the Sahiwal tragedy. His request was accepted by the House.
Speaking on the floor of the assembly, Shehbaz said the government must tell the people truth behind the incident. He said the opposition won’t rest until it unearthed the truth.
“The worst brutality has taken place in Sahiwal. A house committee should be made to review the JIT report on the incident,” he suggested, adding that the opposition won’t let the House function unless the government agreed to address the matter.
PML-N senior leader and former defence minister Khawaja Asif criticised the CTD for its criminal negligence and inhumane behaviour. Calling out the force over brutal killings, Asif said, “Those who should eliminate terrorism have themselves become terrorists.”
“Similar [terrorism] cases should be registered against them [the CTD personnel involved] and they should be treated in the way terrorists are treated,” the PML-N leader urged.
“The Punjab government has become a party in the [Sahiwal encounter] matter,” he said in an apparent allusion to the press conference of the Punjab law minister wherein the latter had endorsed CTD’s narrative.
He seconded Shehbaz’s demand for formation of a parliamentary body to probe the killing, saying if Rao Anwar –accused of killing over 440 people—had been held accountable then these incidents would have been averted.
MAZARI CALLS OUT OPP:
Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari responded to opposition’s allegations, saying they were using the incident for political point scoring.
The opposition parties don’t want to play a constructive role in putting an end to such incidents, she claimed, while calling out the previous governments for enabling such incidents.
She said the opposition they had every right to criticise the government’s performance on the matter, but urged them to refrain from issuing “false statements”.
“The prime minister never condoned the actions of the CTD as has been alleged,” she explained, adding the CTD had a good record, but it acted “irresponsibly” this time.
Responding to Asif’s comments on Anwar, she said that the PML-N had been in power when former SSP Rao Anwar’s involvement in Naqeebullah Mehsud’s extrajudicial murder had emerged.
“Asif was the defence minister back then, why did he not take action?” she asked. “Why didn’t those responsible for the Model Town tragedy also get punished? Let’s avoid politicking on the blood of innocent civilians.”
She also questioned PML-N’s role in model town killings, adding the PML-N was responsible for the rogue behaviour of the provincial police.
“There is a dire need to restructure the police in Sindh and Punjab. Till reforms are not implemented, this issue will not be resolved,” she said.