LAHORE: The opposition questioned the ‘information’ provided by intelligence agencies on the Sahiwal incident in which four people were slain during an ‘encounter’. They openly challenged the treasury to ask if any of the information was false.
As the General Discussion on Law and Order kicked off in Punjab Assembly, the opposition framed probing questions over the ‘informers’ of the Sahiwal incident. The treasury MPAs seemed to be defending the government. Meanwhile, PA Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari prorogued the session for indefinite period, perhaps in a bid to provide a safe exit to provincial law minister Raja Basharat. The minister was to conclude the debate on the incident to satisfy the opposition’s grievances.
It is a precedent in the Punjab Assembly that the minister concerned concluded any general discussion to address the grievances of lawmakers, whether they belonged to the treasury or the opposition. On this occasion, the Sahiwal incident was the topic when the session was prorogued.
PML-N MPA Samiullah Khan said it was ridiculous to claim dangerous personnel of Da’ish had been killed. He consequently questioned the foreign ministry’s efforts to quell the impression that Daish was present in Pakistan.
“The country’s top agencies have earned a good name for Pakistan by achieving targets in different fields. However, they have received strong criticism over intervention in some matters,” he further stated.
He added that the agencies had carried out two successful operations – Zarb-e-Azb and Raddul Fasaad. “However, a third one was also launched in Sahiwal based and is being called “a 100% correct operation”, based on the leads of agencies.
The MPA questioned CTD’s source of information and what was conveyed to the department about the people inside the car. “Who will ask if the information passed to CTD may have been false? Even if it was not false, it will raise questions over the CTD officials who opened fire on an innocent family,” Sami asserted.
He added it was easy to slam a minister’s statements over the Sahiwal issue for the sake of political point-scoring. Sami stressed the real question to ask was as to who provided the information for the operation.
He demanded that law minister Raja Basharat inform the house if he received any version from the ISI or other Intelligence agencies over the matter. He said it was crucial for the PA to form a judicial commission over the matter.
PML-N’s Raheela Naeem said Pakistan’s sovereignty was being challenged by trying to connect the deceased Zeeshan with Da’ish. She asked why the victim’s family was called to the president house if Zeeshan belonged to Da’ish. The MPA termed the Sahiwal incident a failure of institutions and governance. She also demanded a judicial commission to probe the matter.
PTI’s Sardar Ahmad Ali Khan Darishak demanded an in-camera briefing on the Model Town incident. He further asked that the number of police officials be increased to control crime. PTI’s Syed Sumsam Ali Shah Bukhari said Punjab had been a police state in the past. Bukhari added his party had become a voice for the voiceless people rather than basing politics on such issues.
He applauded the government’s timely action after the Sahiwal incident, adding no provincial regime had taken such quick measures. PTI’s Zainab Umair said training was actually the problem for the police department. The lawmaker quipped that had the police not been used for protocol purposes in the past, such incidents would not have taken place.
After the question-answer session, PML-N’s Illyas Chinioti presented a privilege motion against AC Chiniot for damaging his reputation by demolishing legal shops and a madrassa under an anti-encroachment operation. He demanded that the matter be referred to the committee concerned.
Law minister Raja Basharat said the local government minister was not present in the house and, therefore, requested that the matter be put into pending.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 26th, 2019.