News Analysis |

In a major development, the Senate Standing Committee on Interior on Tuesday rejected the joint investigation team’s (JIT) report on Sahiwal massacre, while the families of the victims have also demanded a judicial inquiry into the incident terming the JIT probe “unsatisfactory”.

The decision was made as the family members of the four people killed during the alleged encounter by Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) in Sahiwal earlier this month appeared before the Senate Standing Committee on Interior in the federal capital on Tuesday. It is important to note here that during the meeting, Rehman Malik termed the incident as target killing and also rejected the JIT.

Initially, the CTD said those killed in an intelligence-based operation (IBO) were kidnappers but kids clarified on social media that they were their parents. Later on, the CTD said that those killed in the operation were terrorists.

Furthermore, family members of those killed in the incident demanded the formation of a judicial commission to probe the killing and refer the case to military courts. They have also said that they are dissatisfied with the JIT investigating the incident. “We are not satisfied with the JIT’s investigation,” the mother of  Mr. Zeeshan, one of the victims, told the committee.

“The police that is investigating [the incident] are the ones who committed the killings,” she added while requesting the prime minister to provide justice. It is important to mention here that the CTD officials killed four people, including a couple and their teenage daughter in an alleged “encounter” in Sahiwal, triggering a national outcry that prompted the government to take the security officials into custody and order an investigation into the incident.

Read more: CTD kills four in suspicious encounter in Sahiwal

Initially, the CTD said those killed in an intelligence-based operation (IBO) were kidnappers but kids clarified on social media that they were their parents. Later on, the CTD said that those killed in the operation were terrorists. Moreover, they were killed by their companions who managed to flee, it added. But this was refused by the eyewitnesses who kept on saying that the CTD officials started firing on the vehicle without any intimidation.

After videos of the incident and children of Mr. Khalil, a man killed in the operation, surfaced on social media the entire country stood up and demanded justice for the family. Protests were seen in Lahore where main roads were blocked and a few police officers abducted by the citizens were insulted and dragged.

Dr. Pirzada also asked that why did the CTD need more time to prove Mr. Zeeshan a terrorist? If there was no evidence against him, why was he killed like that? he asked.

Opposition parties took up the matter in the National Assembly on last Monday and demanded a stern against the officers involved in the operation. The leader of opposition in the National assembly Mr. Shehbaz Sharif demanded a parliamentary committee to probe into the matter. PPP and PML-N leaders demanded the government to behave responsibly and punish those found guilty.

Later on, opposition parties jointly demanded a judicial commission to probe into Sahiwal tragedy. Segments of media and civil society along with the victims’ families also agreed with the opposition and urged the Prime Minister to announce a judicial commission so that justice is seen being done.

On the eve of Tuesday, Dr, Moeed Pirzada in his talk show suggested that the Punjab government must not defend the blunder committed by the CTD. There must be an independent inquiry of the incident and those found responsible must be given exemplary punishment, he added. Dr. Pirzada also asked that why did the CTD need more time to prove Mr. Zeeshan a terrorist? If there was no evidence against him, why was he killed like that? he asked.

Read more: Foul play in the Sahiwal Police ‘Encounter’?

Moreover, Dr. Shahbaz Gills who is the spokesperson of the CM Punjab also clarified that his government was ready to form a judicial commission if the JIT fails to satisfy the government. He also added that the government was on the case to take it to its logical end.