The Punjab Assembly session on Thursday echoed with slogans by the Opposition parties over a disputed clean chit given by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to the top brass of the Punjab government in the Model Town case. Led by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf's (PTI's) Leader of the Opposition Mian Mehmood-ur Rasheed, the opposition members staged a protest against the findings of the JIT report and termed it biased. The five-member JIT headed by Quetta police chief Abdul Razzaq Cheema has exonerated Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah and other senior police officials in the Model Town case. In June last year, 11 Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) workers were killed and over 60 injured when the police opened fire after the latter resisted the removal of barricades in an anti-encroachment operation in front of the Minhajul Quran Secretariat. Three of the injured workers later died in hospital. The Punjab government had constituted the JIT on Nov 13 last year that has presented its report now. There are serious concerns about the credibility of the JIT report that has failed to fix the responsibility of the killing of innocent persons in a transparent manner. It is still unclear who ordered the removal of encroachments and directed the police to crush all resistance in such a brutal way. Why has the government not made public the Judicial Inquiry Commission’s report that had clearly indicated the elements responsible for the tragedy? It is beyond logic that junior police officers took all the action on their own without consulting or taking instructions from their seniors and top level government hierarchy.
It has become obvious that the JIT report is not fair. How can the JIT issue a charge sheet against the administration it has been working for? It is a one-sided report that has absolved all the senior government and police officials and blamed junior officials for the killings. These junior police officials have been made scapegoats to save the skin of those who actually orchestrated the violence. If these kinds of brutal killings had occurred at the hands of law enforcement officials in the civilised world, the men holding top slots would have resigned from their office. But in Pakistan the situation is quite the opposite. The PAT has announced countrywide protests against this injustice while opposition parties led by the PTI have declared the JIT report unacceptable. Earlier, the government had come under severe criticism and faced massive protests for its poor handling of the Model Town fiasco. Now, it is giving another opportunity to the opposition to mobilise against it. The government needs to review its policies regarding its dealings with opposition parties. On their part, the PAT and other opposition parties should move the courts instead of resorting to street protests that may cause more violence.*