PM seeks provision of speedy justice in Sahiwal encounter

Inclusive strategy to be devised for Punjab police reforms; Cabinet okays new media watchdog, 10% hike in EOBI pensions; Govt to relax visa rules for 97 states to attract tourists, foreign investment
PM Imran summons CM Buzdar for brief on Sahiwal ‘encounter’; Punjab Assembly holds in-camera session on the Sahiwal tragedy; Premier postpones Mianwali rally on Jan 27 after Sahiwal tragedy
Monitoring Desk ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday directed the authorities to provide speedy justice in Sahiwal shootout in which three of a family, including minor, and one suspected terrorist was killed during a Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) operation. Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry, while briefing media persons about the cabinet meeting in Islamabad, said a police system like that in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) will be introduced in Punjab. The government has decided to bring reforms in Punjab police to improve its performance and service, Fawad said and added that the cabinet meeting with PM Imran Khan in the chair has decided to bring those responsible in Sahiwal incident to justice. The info minister announced that as many as 100 model police stations would be set up across Punjab so that better policing services can be provided to the citizens. The premier also chaired a high-level session, attended by the Punjab chief minister along with other provincial officials, in which it was decided that a comprehensive strategy will be devised to immediately introduce reforms in Punjab police. In the session, it was discussed that the police officers will be trained as per the latest rules. Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar briefed the meeting about the steps the provincial government is taking after the Sahiwal killings. PM Imran said that major changes were made in police culture in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which are an inspiration for other provinces. He directed to send challans of those involved in the incident to courts on an immediate basis. On Wednesday, PM Imran had said that the government is ready to form a judicial commission to probe the Sahiwal shootout in which three of a family, including minor, and one suspected terrorist was killed in a Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) operation. “If opposition demands to form a judicial commission to investigate the Sahiwal incident, the government is ready for it,” the premier said while speaking during the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) parliamentary meeting. “The opposition can also suggest the names for the members of judicial commission, the incident was a human tragedy and we will set an example out of this,” he added. The Punjab government had presented the JIT report of the Sahiwal tragedy to the prime minister. The report, which includes the earlier prepared joint investigation team (JIT) report, held the CTD officers responsible for the death of the family. The CTD chief and three officers had been asked to report to the federal government while two others were suspended. Agencies add: Meanwhile, Fawad said that the federal cabinet has approved to establish the new Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PMRA) for which consultation would be held with all stakeholders including the journalist bodies to make the authority acceptable for everyone. The cabinet has also decided to merge the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority with National Disaster Management Authority. Fawad said that Finance Minister Asad Umar briefed the cabinet over the newly-presented finance bill. The cabinet had also approved an increase of 10 per cent in the pension given by Employees Old Age Benefit Institution (EOBI) while the grant of $58 million for Pakistan Mortgage Finance Company was also approved, he added. He said Rs 5 billion revolving fund for grant of easy loans was set up through the finance bill so that low-income groups could build houses. He said the speaker would coordinate with the opposition for the appointment of new members of the Election Commission of Pakistan. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has summoned Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar to discuss the alleged Sahiwal encounter which led to the killing of four people. According to sources, the premier has sought details from the chief minister over the incident and will discuss the initial report submitted by a joint investigation team probing the killings. Sources further said that the prime minister is irked over the way the aftermath of the tragedy was handled by the Punjab government. Moreover, the premier is expected to direct the chief minister to appoint a focal person on the matter. PM Imran is also expected to seek the chief minister’s advice with regard to reforms in Punjab police. Last week, four people, including three members of a family, were killed in an alleged encounter in Sahiwal. Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) personnel said they had killed a local commander of militant organisation Daesh and three others in the operation. Eyewitnesses, however, disputed the claim and said the people in the car did not fire at officials, nor were any explosives recovered from the vehicle. The dead included a man, his wife and their teenage daughter. Meanwhile, for the first time in its history, the Punjab Assembly has been holding an in-camera session, and the topic of the discussion is ‘the Sahiwal tragedy’ and the progress on the ongoing investigation by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed to probe the incident. The speaker Pervez Ellahi asked the provincial law minister Raja Basharat to share information with the house. However, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar did not participate in the session. Later, Punjab’s Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Fazeel Asghar briefed members of the assembly on the tragic incident. Meanwhile, the opposition members strongly rejected the JIT’s report and the government’s stance on the matter and demanded the formation of a judicial commission to probe the matter transparently. The Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz and other opposition members termed the JIT ‘wastage of time’. Moreover, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leaders said that a first information report (FIR) should be lodged against CM Buzdar. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday postponed his rally in Mianwali in the aftermath of Sahiwal tragedy. The rally scheduled previously on January 27 will now be held in February. The new date will be ascertained by the government later. Party leadership and assembly members have been informed of the decision. The Prime Minister will only attend the convocation of National University of Modern Languages (NUML) on January 27. ]]>

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