The Senate Standing Committee on Interior on Tuesday rejected a joint investigation team (JIT) constituted after the death of four people in police firing in Sahiwal and wrote a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, urging him to form a judicial commission to provide justice to the victims' families.
The committee made the decision after hearing the statement of the mother of Zeeshan — one of the four victims of the 'encounter' — who said she had no confidence in the JIT's investigation.
"We are not satisfied with the JIT's investigation," she told the panel.
"The police that are investigating [the incident] are the ones who committed the killings," she alleged, calling upon the premier to provide justice to the bereaved families.
"All we want is justice," she said.
Sahiwal tragedy: CTD accused of 'pressuring' family to drop case
PML-N Senator Javed Abbasi, who is a member of the committee, criticised provincial ministers and accused them of lying about the Sahiwal incident.
His comments prompted a sharp reaction from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's Azam Swati who said that it had been agreed that the incident would not be politicised.
Abbasi, however, stuck to his remarks and also rejected the JIT.
"Police are involved in the killings; they will not do justice," he said.
"The committee rejected the JIT, the Senate rejected the JIT, in what capacity is this JIT working then?" he asked, demanding that the government form a judicial commission to investigate the matter.
Other committee members also demanded a judicial commission.
The panel also directed the interior secretary to investigate changing statements of provincial ministers regarding the incident.
Zeeshan's mother, while giving her statement, protested against the term "terrorist" that the deceased had been labelled with.
"They killed my son and then they labelled him as a terrorist," she bemoaned.
The Senate panel, chaired by former interior minister Rehman Malik, assured her that justice would be done and no one would be allowed to pressure the families of the deceased.
Malik condemned the incident, terming it "targeted killing".
"I will refer to those who were killed as martyrs," he said.
Zeeshan's mother said that her family had been living in the same house for the past 25 years.
She told the panel that Zeeshan had studied computer sciences and was the "sole breadwinner of the family".
"He sold computers, taught in a school and gave lectures in a college as well," she said.
The deceased's mother asked that if the Counter-Terrorism Department had termed Zeeshan a terrorist then why they did not arrest him alive.
"An Indian spy was also caught alive. Why wasn't Zeeshan arrested alive?" she asked.
She criticised the ministers for "calling Zeeshan a terrorist on television". "Don't they have any manners?" she said.
Zeeshan's brother told the committee that his mother had raised both the brothers by working as a maid.
He said that the deceased did not have any police record.
"We will not allow violation of law," he asserted.
Meanwhile, another victim Khalil's brother Jalil demanded security and said that he was receiving threats.
Khalil, his wife and daughter were also killed in the incident.
Talking to the media after the meeting, Senator Malik said that he had written a letter to the prime minister, who also holds the portfolio of interior ministry, to "answer the call of the nation" and form a judicial commission to investigate the Sahiwal killings.
He said that the interior minister had the authority to form such a commission.
Malik said that as the matter was already in court, there would be no hindrance in the formation of the judicial commission by the government, as the complainant had demanded from the judiciary.
"It is better that you (interior minister) take the initiative (and form a judicial commission)," Malik said.
"If the demand is not fulfilled, the matter will be taken up in parliament."
Malik said the Senate chairman in a ruling had directed the committee to hold an inquiry, fix responsibility and ensure that such incidents do not happen in future.
The former minister said all parties had agreed over the demand for forming a commission.
Malik remarked that the police could not be given the licence to kill anyone even if there was evidence against him.
"It is alarming how unarmed civilians were killed in daylight by Punjab police on a main highway in front of dozens of citizens," he said.
"All questions submitted to Punjab police and interior ministry must be responded to in detail."
He termed the Sahiwal incident as "painful" and said the standing committee had asked 41 questions from interior ministry and government of Punjab, out of which some were answered.
Sibling recalls how his teenage sister was killed in cold blood in Sahiwal tragedy
Malik said the statements of bereaved families would be made part of official record of the investigation.
The senator lauded the Punjab chief minister for taking immediate action and ordering arrest of the officials involved in the killings.
Malik clarified that the panel had not summoned the families of the deceased earlier.
He said that parliament would not forget the sacrifices rendered by the law enforcement agencies because of the crimes of a few officers.
"We will appreciate [sacrifices of the forces] on record because will not discourage anyone. But we will also not allow violation of law," he declared.
The meeting was attended by Senator Abbasi, Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh, Haji Momin Khan Afridi, Kauda Babar, Kalsoom Parveen, Azam Swati, Shehzad Waseem, Asad Junejo, the interior secretary and other senior officers from the interior ministry, Federal Investigation Agency and police.