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The Punjab government has decided to remove the top counterterrorism police officials after a joint investigation team (JIT) blamed them in its preliminary report for the killing of an innocent family in a shady operation at Sahiwal earlier this week.
The JIT was constituted on the direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan to investigate the killing of a man, named Khalil, his wife Nabeela, daughter Areeba and friend Zeeshan Javed by CTD officials on GT Road in Sahiwal on Saturday.
Khalil's son Mohammad Umair and two daughters Muniba and Jaziba were also wounded in the "operation" which the CTD claimed was conducted on the basis of intelligence against "terrorists".
The "operation" set off nationwide outrage after video footage, eyewitnesses and Khalil's surviving children debunked the CTD narrative.
Happening under govt of Naya Pakistan. Shameful. The Counter Terrorism Department openend fire on a car in #Sahiwal killing husband, wife and a teenager. These kids narrate the horror of their parents being killed, while CTD claims these were kidnappers— Naila Inayat (@nailainayat) January 19, 2019
The JIT, which had representation from the police and civil and military intelligence agencies, submitted its report at a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Usman Buzdar on Tuesday.
Attendees at the meeting included provincial Local Government and Community Development Minister Abdul Aleem Khan, Punjab Law Minister Basharat Raja as well as the chief secretary, additional chief secretary for interior, and inspector general of police.
Speaking to the media after the meeting, Law Minister Basharat Raja said that the JIT, on the basis of its preliminary findings, has blamed the CTD officials for the killing of the family in Sahiwal.
"In view of the JIT report, the government has decided to remove the AIG and DIG CTD from their posts," he told the media. "The SSP and DSP CTD Sahiwal region have been suspended," he added.
Shady encounter leaves three of a family dead
"The AIG (Operations) has also been removed from his post and directed to report to the federal government," the minister further said, adding that disciplinary action would also be taken against these officials.
"Five CTD officials involved in the killing have been booked under Section 302 (of Pakistan Penal Code) and they would be tried in an antiterrorism court," Raja said.
He said the JIT head has sought time for further investigation against Zeeshan Javed who was also killed in the "operation" suggesting that he was linked with terrorists in some way.
The minister promised to give an in-camera briefing to the media on Wednesday to give details that had led to the "operation" which he defended as "based on 100 per cent correct intelligence information".
He said the media has access to information, so it should at least investigate and find out who had owned the car in which the family was travelling. "At tomorrow's briefing, you would get answers to this and all other questions you have," he added.
The minister praised the military and other law enforcement agencies for peace in the country. He credited the CTD with successful fight against terrorists in the province.
Police ‘brutality’ in Sahiwal triggers outcry on social media
Raja claimed that the government has fulfilled its commitment to the people of Punjab by fixing responsibility for the Sahiwal tragedy. "Never before in the history of this province action has been taken in such a case within 72 hours," he added.
He said the government would do whatever it could to ensure rule of law and establish the state's writ in the province.
He ruled out a judicial inquiry into the incident as was demanded by the opposition, saying that the JIT has already fixed responsibility and the government has taken action against those responsible.
According to sources, forensic samples, including the bullet shells, collected from the crime scene have been sent to the Punjab forensic science agency. Shells of as many as 42 sub-machineguns (SMGs) bullets fired by CTD officials have been sent for forensic analysis.
However, the SMGs used by the CTD officials have not been handed over for forensic analysis, while bullet shells from a 9mm pistol were sent for examination.
Forensic inspection of the Suzuki Alto car in which the family had been killed has not been completed thus far because either forensic experts would have to travel to Sahiwal or the car would be brought to the lab for this purpose.
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