Senate panel not satisfied with police answers on Sahiwal killings

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Interior was on Friday not satisfied with the answers provided by Inspector General of Police (IGP) Punjab Amjad Javed Saleemi to questions regarding the alleged extra-judicial killings of four people, including three of a family, in Sahiwal by the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD).

The parliamentary panel met with Senator Rehman Malik in the chair.

Home Secretary Fazeel Asghar told members of the committee that the driver of the car, Zeeshan Javed, was a terrorist. He said Zeeshan was the main target and that a photograph of the car was taken before the operation which showed two people sitting in the front seats of the car. He said the rear of the car was not clear in the picture due to the luggage.

IGP Punjab urges MPs to wait for JIT report

Only 14 of the 42 questions asked by the committee were answered in writing by the Punjab police, who avoided answering the trickier questions till the finalisation of the investigation by the joint investigation team (JIT).

The IGP said CTD had played a significant role in breaking terrorist networks as there has been a significant decrease in terrorism incidents after the formation of the force in 2015.

However, he said, the Sahiwal incident “has broken our backbone” and that everyone should wait till the finalisation of the JIT report.

The police’s record, presented before the committee, shows that no criminal case was registered against the passengers in the car, including Zeeshan, who was described as a terrorist by the home secretary.

The committee chairman said it needs to be made clear if Zeeshan Javed was radicalised and if so, evidence of his involvement in terrorism, if he was ever arrested for such acts and if he was ever tried for them or put under notice.

CTD informed the committee that the status of Zeeshan Javed is under investigation.

During the course of the meeting, while sharing details of successful raids conducted by CTD against terrorists in the past, the IGP became emotional and angry.

“This is not a joke; don’t take it as a joke. This is a serious issue,” he told Senator Kalsoom Parveen, whom he thought was not serious during his briefing on one such incident.

After the committee meeting, the senator told media persons she will file a privilege motion against the IGP for ridiculing her.

The meeting had started with a condemnation of the Sahiwal incident in which four people -two men, a woman and a teenage girl – were killed last week and prayers were offered for the victims.

The committee chairman said conspiracy cannot be ruled out in the incident as the initial investigation shows it can be personal animosity or a conspiracy to undermine institutions.

He said an inquiry should be conducted into whether some CTD individuals were used in the plan and that it should be ensured that the nation is not confused by such an anti-Pakistan move.

The IG said the JIT has been asked to collect evidence to prove claims of Zeeshan being a terrorist. He said the remaining questions asked by the committee will be answered after the investigation is completed.

Interior Secretary retired Maj Azam Suleman Khan said the JIT should be given time to complete its investigation as it is examining evidence collected by the police.

Senator Malik directed the IGP that the investigation should be fair and impartial and that CTD officials must be treated like ordinary accused persons during the investigation.

The committee also discussed the welfare plan for children who survived the incident.

PML-N Senator Javed Abbasi said he has no faith in the JIT as the police cannot conduct a fair investigation as it is party to the case.

#Dawn Courtesy