It was inevitable, yet it doesn’t make it any less a travesty; the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed by the Chief Minister to investigate the Model Town Incident – in which the Chief Minister is the prime accused – emphatically declared him innocent, while holding 10 junior officers liable, 6 of them common constables. The JIT also gave a clean chit to the former provincial law minister, Rana Sanaullah. Not only does the report stand in direct contradiction to the findings of the judicial commission on the incident, which the government tried to suppress for several months, it reads like a statement from Shahbaz Sharif’s defence lawyer, and most importantly; it makes junior officers scapegoats for a crime that could only have been committed with the backing from the top.

We are faced with a situation where the inquiry by the judiciary claims that the Chief Minister and the Law Minister failed to reign in the police; implicitly giving them the go ahead. It also claims that the statements given by the same are contradictory as to whether an order to ‘disengage’ was given, implying that the stories are an attempt to cover each other’s back. The JIT claims that the shooting started based on the false rumours that two policeman had been abducted by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PAT) workers – essentially pinning the blame on chance and fate – and that the FIR against Shahbaz Sharif is “baseless and without any evidence”. Two inquiries, two different results; yet there can only be one version that is truth, and the mere fact that they are wildly contradictory means one of them is twisting the truth for personal advantage. Both the Judicial Commission and the JIT are not legally binding on the government; being tools of political change rather, therefore we must take recourse to ancillary evidence to unravel this conundrum. Beyond the carefully structured words of the report, the evidence is stacked high against the PML-N. The commission report was suppressed until a private news channel leaked it, the government is shamelessly delaying their responses in the Lahore High Court and the JIT itself presented its finding after a hefty delay. Even the videos of the shooting show a coordinated attack, not a rescue operation to save abducted constables. The government’s fears give away the truth.

It is improbable that the police would have shot civilians without the express backing of the political elite, yet it the police not the political leaders that are implicated. 11 people were killed, 60 injured, in urban Lahore, yet no senior official shoulders the responsibility. Even if they are not directly liable, being unable to prevent incidents like this means the end of political careers worldwide; where ministers step down voluntarily when their department has failed. Only in the kingdom of Punjab, the police is used to intimidate opponents and are then made scapegoats.