Sehwan, Lahore attack aftermath: Nationwide crackdown on terror suspects challenged

Petitioners want IHC to restrain security forces from killing anyone without due process of law

Rizwan Shehzad February 21, 2017
Soldiers stand guard outside Lal Shahbaz Qalandar's shrine. PHOTO: APP

ISLAMABAD: A nationwide crackdown launched by security forces in the past couple of days which has reportedly left 100 suspected terrorists dead, has been challenged before the Islamabad High Court on Monday.

A petition has been filed before the IHC by Ihtesham Ahmad, a trustee of the Shohada Foundation of Pakistan, through his counsel Tariq Asad. The petition further urges the court to direct authorities to provide a list of names of those who have been killed with complete descriptions, how they were killed and the grounds for killing them without due process of law.

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Ahmad has named the federation through the secretary of interior and the secretary of defence as respondents in the petition.

Further, the petitioner has requested the court to refrain the respondents from killing citizens without due process of law. He has also prayed the court to restrain the respondents from arresting citizens in accordance with law and provide a list of those who are currently in custody.

On February 16, over 80 people were killed and over 200 injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up in the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan.

Following the blast, the police, the paramilitary Rangers and other law enforcing agencies had launched a nationwide crackdown against terrorists. Asad said that in these raids, around 100 terrorists were gunned down by security forces on February 17 during raids in Punjab, Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Asad added that three days before the Sehwan blast, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives in the middle of a protest on Mall Road in Lahore killing at least 15 people. That attack was claimed by the Jamaatul Ahrar, a faction of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP). Later, he said, it had been reported that the Pakistani authorities stated that the attack had been orchestrated from Afghanistan where the militant group has sanctuaries.

In this regard, he pointed towards statements from the military’s media wing, the Inter Services Public Relations, which said that Afghan authorities had been handed a list of 76 terrorists who were hiding across the border and planning, directing, supporting terrorist activities in Pakistan.

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Asad said that while the military, and later in a statement from the federal government, too placed responsibility for the attacks on terrorists in Afghanistan, security forces had claimed to have killed 100 terrorists in crackdowns in different areas of Pakistan.

In the petition, he argued that the respondents do not have the legal right to capture people without due process of law and take their life in violation of their fundamental rights.

“Acts and deeds of the respondents are in violation of such a natural right to life and liberty which is guaranteed by our Constitution not only to the citizens of Pakistan, but to everyone irrespective of his nationality, religion or tribe,” he stated.

The petition, while seeking interim relief from the court, requested the court to direct the respondents not to allow enforced disappearances of citizens without proof of their terrorist activities and not to kill anyone without due process of law.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2017.