LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has left behind all others in taking ‘strict action’ after every wrongdoing under his nose. In case the accused person is vulnerable, he and even his father can be made an example but the same CM proves helpless when it comes to an influential accused. A tale of two influential accused is a case in point.
The Lahore police had registered a case against Ali Imran Yousaf, son-in-law of Shahbaz Sharif, and his police guards for brutally assaulting a bakery owner in the Defense-B police area in October, 2012. Police had reported the FIR after CCTV footage of the incident was aired by television channels. In the footage the guards of Yousaf were seen torturing Irfan, a bakery employee, who had refused to deliver a cake to a woman customer, stated to be CM’s daughter.
The complainant Umer Hussain, owner of the bakery, had told the police that on October 7, 2012, a woman came to his shop and asked for a cake but the employees refused to entertain her saying that the shop was closed for cleaning. Upon this, two bodyguards of that woman maltreated one of his employees, Irfan, and extended life threats to him.
The FIR stated that at least six to seven Elite policemen were already present outside the bakery and they also threatened Irfan that they would kill him if he did so again. Yousaf had courted his arrest after the chief minister directed him to join the investigation to cool down public anger. Later the accused were granted post-arrest bail by the court. What to say about the interrogation of the accused in custody when the police officers were excitedly providing best protocol to him. In the name of security, the accused was given extraordinary protocol.
Next month, the prosecution department produced a charge-sheet accusing Imran and six personnel of police of assaulting the bakery employee. The prosecution department had stated that the charges had been proved according to the CCTV footage obtained and aired by TV channels.
In the end, the complainant and victim of bakery torture case surprised many in the town when they told a judicial magistrate that Yousaf, the son-in-law of CM, and his police guards were not the real culprits.
In their statements, they also noted that nobody had kidnapped them nor did they recognise the persons who beat up the employee. However, he said, the nominated elite policemen were not those who tortured him. Both Umar and Irfan told the magistrate that they did not want any proceedings against Yousaf and others. In January 2013, the accused were acquitted by the court.
Last week, Punjab Assembly Secretary Rai Mumtaz Hussain was sent on a one-month forced leave a day after his two sons allegedly thrashed a traffic warden for issuing them a ticket for road violation.
The official was initially removed from his post and made an officer on special duty (OSD) by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif but later Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana Mohammad Iqbal sent him on one-month leave following an inquiry conducted on the speaker's behalf. It was learnt that neither the Secretary was found on the crime scene nor he attempted to influence the police officers.
According to police, Rai Fazal and Rai Najaf, both sons of PA secretary, were arrested following the scuffle and were presented before a local court which released them on bail against sureties of Rs 50,000 each.
Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed of the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) also pointed out the kind of justice done to the vulnerable father by filing an adjournment motion in the provincial assembly against the CM’s move. The PTI leader was of the view that the CM was not authorized to remove the PA secretary and questioned about what kind of justice was being dispensed where a father had to bear the punishment for the deeds of his sons.
Early this year, several news channels started airing the ‘warm welcome’ given to influential politician Khurram Dastgir Khan as he arrived in his native town in Gujranwala after becoming a federal minister for trade. A number of thugs riding on four-wheel drives and carrying automatic assault rifles accompanied the minister as his motorcade passed through the routes in Gujranwala city. They continued aerial firing in the presence of police to ‘pay homage’ to the politician.
The CM immediately took ‘strict action’ and directed the police to punish the culprits. But neither the influential minister was booked nor arrested despite the fact that he himself was present on the crime scene.
There is a famous quote, “Do not twist justice in legal matters by favoring the poor or being partial to the rich and powerful. Always judge people fairly.”