Shahbaz Bhatti, slain minister for minority affairs, was killed by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Islamabad’s most senior police officer told a Senate panel on Tuesday.
IGP Bani Amin Khan told the Senate standing committee on interior that the TTP was responsible for the “act of terrorism”.
The high-profile murder on the streets of the capital in March had raised concerns on the inability of the police to ensure security. A pamphlet attributed to al Qaeda and TTP found with the minister’s body claimed responsibility for the killing and said he had been punished for being a “blasphemer”. However, some recent reports had also claimed that the murder could have been a result of a family feud.
The IGP said that the police had identified two suspects, but they had gone abroad before they could be caught. Sources familiar with the matter told The Express Tribune that the suspects had flown to Dubai.
“A request for the issuance of red warrants through Interpol (International police) has been made and an interim challan submitted to the court,” said Khan.
He claimed that all cases of terrorism, except for the twin suicide attacks on the International Islamic University in Islamabad and the suicide attack on Silk Bank have been solved by the Islamabad police. “The attack on the university was linked to people across the border,” he told the Senate panel.
Khan said the police have traced the car used for transporting the suicide bomber at the Silk Bank. “The arrest of suspects is likely in a few days,” he said.
The committee chaired by Senator Talha Mehmood noted with concern that almost all suspects arrested in different terrorist activities have been acquitted by courts. The committee blamed weak prosecution and legal branch of the police for this circumstance to which the IGP replied affirmatively.
A majority of cases have been disposed of for a lack of sufficient evidence, the panel was told.
Chief Commissioner Islamabad Tariq Mehmood Pirzada said that it is impossible to find witnesses in state cases and the only option is to produce police officials as witnesses. “This has been the strongest point in favour of defence because courts do not consider such evidence as sufficient,” added Pirzada.
He agreed that there were serious weaknesses in the prosecution and legal branch. The IGP said the weakness of the legal branch lies in the unavailability of competent officers. “Make laws, amend them where necessary and give us qualified law officers for the legal branch,” the police officer said.
He supported the chief commissioner’s suggestion to further amend evidence laws so that they are more workable for both the police and courts.
The committee recommended that the government initiate work on amending the legislations, while focusing on laws of evidence. The committee said that registration of false cases should be made a cognisable offence and its sentence should be increased to a minimum of three years.
The committee, irked at Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s absence, said that he must be present at the next meeting.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 24th, 2011.