ISLAMABAD - There was heated debated in both the houses of Parliament on Monday over the Sahiwal tragedy wherein senators and National Assembly members strongly condemned the shooting incident.

Opposition senators demanded constituting a commission to thoroughly probe the unfortunate incident and ensure justice to the victims. The Opposition MNAs, on the other hand, also called for forming a parliamentary committee for fining out the truth in the matter.

Treasury members assured both the houses of carrying out a transparent inquiry and give exemplary punishment to those responsible for the apparent murder of the victims in a brutal way.

Four people – including two women – were killed in a shady encounter involving Punjab’s counter-terrorism police on a highway in the Qadirabad area of Sahiwal district on Saturday.

The videos made and uploaded by the eyewitnesses and their accounts of the events totally contradicted the police claims that the victims were terrorists and who were killed after they first fired on the CTD team.

Reprimanding government for constituting a joint investigation team to probe the Sahiwal incident, opposition parties in the Senate condemned the cold blooded killings of innocent people and rejected viewpoint of the government.

The Senate which met with Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani in the chair held threadbare discussion on the incident with opposition senators demanding action against those responsible for the killings.

Speaking on a point of public importance in the House, Leader of the Opposition Raja Zafarul Haq demanded an open discussion and transparent investigations into the incident to take the culprits to task. He said we reject the so-called JIT and want action in real sense.

Taking part in the discussion, PPP Senator Sherry Rehman said that the authorities were constantly changing their stance on the ‘cold-blooded’ killings but that they were standing against visual evidence.

“This is an age of transparency when the camera captures everything”, she said, stressing that ‘extrajudicial killings’ should come to an end in Pakistan.

She questioned motive behind the formation of a JIT to probe the incident, saying such teams had not been formed over similar incidents in the past.

Rehman also asked that if the deceased were suspected terrorists, was there no other option than to open fire on them?

She said that the people are now wondering whether they should leave their homes with their children. “Who is safe in Pakistan?” she asked.

She said that the incident smelled of a ‘cover-up’ and sought a government response on the matter by tomorrow.

JI leader Sirajul Haq said that it was very serious matter as the Constitution guaranteed right to life to every citizen. He said that the government had taken several U-turns over the matter.

He said the government had vowed to give an exemplary punishment to the culprits, but in the same breath it dubbed the deceased as terrorists.

Abdul Ghafoor Haideri said that a thorough probe was needed into the incident and putting it under the carpet would set a wrong precedent.

He said that the chair should issue a strict ruling to take the responsible of Sahiwal incident to the task.

Usman Khan Kakar said that Punjab government claimed that CTD took action on basis of intelligence reports that some terrorists were travelling in the vehicle intercepted near Sahiwal.

He said that strict action should be taken against those, who provided wrong intelligence. He said that those, who are responsible for this incident, should be punished within one month after completing detailed probe.

Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini said that no politics should be made over this matter and everyone should join forces for a true probe into this incident. He said that killings in Balochistan had become a routine and no one seems ready to take care of this.

He demanded to form a parliamentary commission comprising opposition and the treasury benches to probe the Sahiwal incident.

Sitara Ayaz said that the police have killed innocent people, which is condemnable.

She said that on the one hand, Punjab government announces compensation for the deceased, while on the other hand, CTD termed them terrorists.

She said that the government formed JIT to cover-up the matter. She said that whether previous JITs had ever produced any result. She urged the chair to issue a ruling over Sahiwal incident instead of solely relying on JIT report.

Faisal Javed said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had assured that strict action would be taken against those responsible for the incident. He said that PTI government would never spare any wrongdoer.

He said that Punjab government announced that JIT report will be presented tomorrow and responsibility would be fixed. He said that the government is going to introduce reforms in Punjab police to prevent misuse of authority and power.

Those, who also spoke on the occasion, included Mir Kabeer Ahmed Shahi, Kauda Babar, Javed Abbasi, Kalsoom Parveen, Robina Khalid, Mushtaq Ahmed, Shahzad Waseem, Azam Khan Swati, Ayesha Raza Farooq, Rehman Malik and Ateeq Sheikh.

Later, Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani in his ruling directed Senate Standing Committee on Interior to take up the matter regarding Sahiwal incident and present a comprehensive report after complete investigation within one week to the House.

The Chair further said that the report should contain a plan to prevent such incident in future and to take care of children of the deceased family.

During the proceedings, 3 bills were introduced in the House, “The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2018, (Amendment of Article 260), The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2018, (Omission of clause (2) of Article 30) and The Compulsory Blood Test of the Spouses and Proposed Spouses for Thalassemia Disease Bill, 2018.

The chair referred the bills to the standing committees concerned.

Earlier, the House also unanimously passed The Federal Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2017.

At the beginning, newly-elected senator from Balochistan Manzoor Ahmed Khan Kakar took oath of his office.

The House also offered fateha for the departed souls of former parliamentarians Syed Ali Raza Abidi and Malik Hakimeen Khan.

The Senate unanimously passed a condolence resolution paying rich tribute to Malik Hakimeen Khan.



NA proceedings

The national assembly on Monday also strongly condemned the tragic incident of Sahiwal, with the treasury benches assuring their opposition colleagues of giving exemplary punishment to responsible. But, the opposition demanded a parliamentary committee to probe the matter.

The lawmakers from both sides of aisle, suspending the rest of the agenda, shared their sentiments on Sahiwal tragedy. Both the opposition and government were unanimous that security officials inhumanly behaved in the presence of innocent children.

The government members criticized previous governments for not taking actions against police officials like Rao Anwar and discouraging the culture of fake-encounter.

Opposition Leader in NA Shahbaz Sharif, initiating the debate, demanded to form a parliamentary committee to review the JIT report on the incident. He criticized the Punjab government for frequently changing the statement on Sahiwal killing incident.

“There should be no politics on this matter as the Prime Minister Imran Khan used to politicize the Model Town issue and other,” said opposition leader, mentioning that innocent children with his initial statement revealed the matter.

“We will not stage sit-in but also not allow government to sit and relax before taking any proper action,” he said.

PPP-P Raja Pervez Ashraf, on his turn, said that Prime Minister should tender resignation on this Sahiwal tragedy.

“The initial statements of ministers after the tragedy were highly irresponsible,” said the former prime minister. He also criticized chief minister Punjab for presenting flowers to the survived children in the hospitals. He also demanded to form a parliamentary committee on Sahiwal incident.

PML-N’s Khwaja Asif criticized the prime minister for tweeting after on this sad incident after 24-hours. “Mere one tweet would not serve purpose,” said Asif, criticizing the prime minister for lauding CTD.

He also came down hard on chief minister for presenting floral wreath to children.

“The security officials consider to provide protection had become terrorists,” he said, mentioning that Sahiwal incident has increased the sense of insecurity among people.

“If Rao Anwar had already been held accountable, these incident today police officers would not be held,” Asif said.

State Minister for Interior Shehryr Afridi, responding to the concerns raised by opposition, assured that this government would give punishment to responsible.

“We are ready to give answer as initially the police officials were suspended,” he said asking the opposition to wait for the report of JIT.

Minister for Human Right Shireen Mazari, condemning the Sahiwal incident, said that there was a need to restructure police department.

“We are paying the price for blunders committed by the previous governments,” she said, criticizing the PML-N government for not taking action against Rao Anwar. Mazari said that those involved in the incident must be given punishment.

“There was no accountability of fake encounters tradition of past governments... Was anyone punished for Model Town tragedy,” she asked.

The minister said the situation could have been different if action had been taken against SSP Rao Anwar in past.

The lawmakers from Waziristan Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar  condemning  the incident of Sahiwal, also demanded proper action on alleged criminal incident in their area by security officials. “It was injustice as proper action need to be taken,” said Dawar.

PTI’s Amir Liaqat, at the end of proceedings, also condemned the incident and assured that incumbent government would take action on it. Liaqat was interrupted in the mid of his speech by the lawmakers from Waziristan. The house also saw rumpus as the chair immediately adjourned the house.


PM's promise


Agencies add: Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday assured the nation that after his return from Qatar, he would ensure exemplary punishment for the guilty in Sahiwal shooting incident.

On his twitter account, the Prime Minister vowed to review and initiate reform process over the entire structure of Punjab police.

“The grief & anger of the ppl (people) of Pak (Pakistan) on Sahiwal incident is understandable & justified. I assure the nation that when I return from Qatar, not only will the guilty be given exemplary punishment, but I will review the entire structure of Punjab police & start process of reforming it,” he said.

On the other hand, Prime Minister Khan reportedly expressed annoyance over verbal mangling of the Sahiwal tragedy by some of his party’s provincial ministers of Punjab before investigation into the incident.

He asserted that police officers should not resort to such measures or actions which were unconstitutional.

He vowed to ensure protection of citizens and rule of law in the country, and that the government could not support illegal actions/measures of any of its departments. He maintained that the federal government would ensure provision of justice in the Sahiwal incident.