License to Kill?

  • A young man’s killing raises worrying questions about the police

The killing of Osama Satti, 21, in the wee hours of Saturday, by the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) police is a horrible enough incident, but it raises unfortunate memories of a similar shooting by the Sahiwal CTD in January 2019. This time, the incident occurred right in the federal capital, and though federal interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad made all the usual noises about ensuring justice, though a judicial enquiry has been ordered, and though five CTD policemen have been held, past experience indicates that the guilty will escape justice.

The Sahiwal killing, when a family was gunned down in cold blood by a CTD squad, at least originated in one person being suspected to be a terrorism suspect. However, in this incident, it is claimed by the murdered young man’s father, who is the complainant in the FIR, that he had quarreled on Friday with the police, which indicates a deliberation that makes the shooting plain murder. There is also a worrying sense of entitlement apparently at work, where the lives of ordinary citizens are seen as somehow worth less than the prestige of policemen. The government must find out whether this is a general impression amongst the police, or whether there is a particular impression amongst CTD personnel of some special privilege. The police supervisors, both in its own higher echelons and in the federal Interior Ministry and provincial Home Departments, must also check CTD recruitment and secondment procedures to ensure that they are ending up with the most violent and vicious policemen there, men most like the militants, on the principle of setting a thief to catch a thief.

It needs to be determined if the problem is with the CTD, or the police as a whole. The extent to which the police as an institution attempts to cover up such crimes by its members must be examined. The police initially tried to palm off the incident as a robbery attempt, or a shooting on a vehicle not stopping at a police checkpost. This action was only taken after public protests involving the victim’s body being exhibited on the Kashmir Highway also indicates how difficult it is for the ordinary citizen to get acknowledgement of injustice from the authorities, let alone justice from the police.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].
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