Daily Times Editorial 26 October 2019

Sahiwal case verdict


The state must file an appeal against the acquittal of six personnel of Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) pertaining to the killing of four people, including a woman and her daughter, in the Sahiwal incident earlier this year. The state cannot be absolved if its duty to provide justice to families of the deceased even if their heirs accept the verdict. No matter how strong technical grounds have been presented in the verdict, the fact remains that the four people were killed. If the acquitted people are not the actual shooters, the government should remember its duty to find the actual killers. As per the earlier account of the gruesome incident, Muhammad Khalil with wife Nabeela and four children was traveling in a car, driven by their neighbour Zeeshan, when they were stopped near Sahiwal and Khalil, his wife and daughter and driver Zeeshan were shot point-blank and killed. Three minors, who were left by the shooters, later revealed the detail of the incident to the public through a video footage, shot and shared by a member of the public which triggered a storm of anger and protests across the country. The initial response from the CTD and the government was that the CTD had intelligence-based information that the car had terrorist occupants. It seemed to be a botched operation, and a state apology would have have set the record straight but the ensuing developments made the matter worse. The judge in the verdict alluding to the hostile witnesses said that none of the witness recognised the personnel. “The prosecution has failed to prove the case against the accused… while dispensing justice the court has to see the evidence available on record…,” trial judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta ruled in the verdict. In all 27 private witnesses were presented in the court, and none of them verified the accounts of the killings. The case is a textbook example of turning the tables in court through hostile witnesses. The Chief Justice of Pakistan has, for such reasons, launched a war on fake or hostile witnesses, which are often the result of under the table arrangements.
The families of the deceased say they have accepted the decision. It should be left to some reporter or fact finding commission to dig out the magic behind the petitioners’ will to accept the verdict. If we fail the Sahiwal case, it means the whole society will have blood on their hands.



Ailing politicians


Finally some sense has prevailed and Prime Minister Imran Khan has expressed concern on the falling health of his predecessor Nawaz Sharif, who had to be hospitalised for treatment. The exact nature of his diseases is not yet fully reported but one thing is clear; that he is badly ill.
So is former President Asif Ali Zardari. He has been shifted to a hospital in Islamabad from Adiyala Jail, Rawalpindi. Pakistan People’s Party has demanded that he should not be removed from the hospital until his complete treatment.
PM Khan has allowed Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryum Nawaz to be with her father at this testing time. The PML-N has moved Islamabad High Court seeking bail of its leader on medical grounds.
Maryum Nawaz has been with her father through thick and thin. She got the shock of her life when her mother Begum Kalsum Nawaz died in hospital in London.

It, no doubt, is hard for her to be at the side of her father in hospital. But cruel jibes by the government functionaries and supporters echo what happened at the time when Begum Kalsoom Nawaz passed away.

One thing that the rulers may keep into consideration is the fact that they must not let the situation become bloody. The country cannot afford any more causalities. We already had killings or mysterious deaths of our leaders starting from Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah all the way to Benazir Bhutto.

What we are witnessing today is the worst form of political victimisation as almost all opponents of the government have been put behind bars for one reason or the other.

The case of former Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah is a classic example of this witch-hunt. Reports of his ill-treatment in jail have long been making rounds in media.
Now the supporters of Nawaz Sharif have started organising public gatherings outside his hospital. It is going to build momentum for the Azadi March opposition parties have planned under the leadership of Maulana Fazlur Rehman.
Regardless of what happens to this march, the question remains that why health of political leaders was not taken care of while cases against them were pending trial.
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