Administrative, judicial probes to nail culprits

Nov 18, 2013| Courtesy by :

Rawalpindi tragedy: Curfew lifted | Angered CM vows swift action | Warns ulema against sectarian prejudices | Says nation won’t forgive those who sow strife | Curfew relaxed for funeral of three victims at Liaquat Bagh | Skirmishes reported, police vehicles damaged


RAWALPINDI/LAHORE – Grieved, hurt and angered, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Sunday constituted a high-level fact-finding committee on the tragic Rawalpindi riots to nail the real culprits.
Headed by former Chairman Chief Minister’s Inspection Team, Najam Saeed, the committee has been powered to point out any administrative or security lapse that led to the tragedy in which at least 9 people were killed and more than 60 others injured on the 10th of Muharram. It would also identify those responsible for dereliction of duty or laxity, and propose measures for checking such incidents in future.
With Secretary Prosecution Nadeem Irshad Kiyani and Additional IG Investigation Muhammad Amlesh as its members, the committee has been directed to submit its report to the CM within seven days.
Also, Lahore High Court Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial constituted a one-man judicial commission to probe the Rawalpindi incident.
Justice Mamoonur Rasheed Sheikh is head of the commission and mandated to investigate any government official as he deemed necessary for an impartial inquiry. He would start the job from Monday (today). The judicial commission would submit its report within 30 days to the Punjab government, which had requested the constitution of the commission.
In a related development, the Rawalpindi administration has decided to lift the curfew in the city at 6am Monday (today) on orders from the DCO. The city has been in the control of security apparatus, including army, after the riots. The blocked cell phone services may also be restored.
Earlier in the day, the CM held a meeting with prominent ulema in Rawalpindi to enlist their support against sectarianism. As per sources, the tone and tenor of the CM was strict and serious as he talked to the ulema belonging to various schools of thought.
Assuring the ulema delegation of early completion of inquiries and arrest of culprits, Shahbaz Sharif warned that history will never forgive the ulema if any damage was caused to Pakistan by sectarian prejudices. He said that there were Shias and Sunnis in other countries too, but such incidents hardly ever occur there due to the presence of a code of conduct.
The CM said that ulema will have to cooperate with the government and use their collective wisdom for unity, harmony and peace. He said that there are followers of different sects and religions in the province, but all need to live peacefully.
Shahbaz Sharif also issued instructions for provision of alternative place on a temporary basis for the offering of prayers and continuation of education by the students of Madrassa Taaleemul Quran, which was damaged in the riots.
The ulema delegation was led by Maulana Samiul Haq, Maulana Hanif Jallandhri and Maulana Ashraf Ali and included Maulana Zahid Mahmood Qasmi, Maulana Abdul Khabir Azad, Maulana Qari Abdul Rashid, Maulana Abdul Majeed Hazarvi, Maulana Hafiz Muhammad Siddique, Maulana Dr Atiqur Rehman, Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, Maulana Habibur Rehman, Maulana Yousaf Shah, Maulana Gohar Rehman, Maulana Muhammad Owais and Maulana Qari Sardar Ali among others. Federal Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan and Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah were also present.
As a result of successful negotiations, the government allowed the delegation of ulema to offer funeral prayers for three riot victims in Liaquat Bagh. The ulema had assured that peace will be maintained at all costs during funeral prayers. Earlier, the streets of Rawalpindi witnessed hide-and-seek and heated arguments between security officials and the people and zealots who wanted to reach Liaquat Bagh to attend funerals.
At the ulema meeting, the CM said that he personally reviewed Muharramul Haram security arrangements across Punjab to avert terrorism, but unfortunately the tragic incident took place in Rawalpindi on the 10th of Muharram.
The CM said that Pakistan is facing terrorism, extremism and weak economy amid other challenges, and there is a need for unity and harmony at this critical juncture. Ulema must play their constructive role in it, the CM urged.
The funeral of the three victims was held under a strict security cover by Pakistan Army, police and other law-enforcement agencies. The funeral prayer was led by JUI-S chief Maulana Samiul Haq, and attended by scores of seminary students and people from different schools of thought.
Heart-moving scenes were witnessed when three ambulances brought the three coffins to Liaquat Bagh. There was a commotion when seminary students brought the coffins to the stage along with army troops as many were pushed down the stairs. According to an estimate, 3,000 to 3,500 people attended the funeral.
Addressing the participants, Maulana Sami expressed deep grief over the bloody clashes at Raja Bazaar. He said Rawalpindi was a peaceful city, but the enemies shattered its image by fueling unrest. He saw a third hand behind the incident. He hailed the role of Pakistan Army, police and other law-enforcement agencies to keep peace in the city.
The curfew was relaxed before and after the funeral prayer to allow attendance. Earlier, the situation got out of control for a while when a group of religious students tried to violate curfew at Arya Mohallah in a bid to reach Liaquat Bagh. Army troops fired rubber bullets to disperse them, but some seminary students scuffled with troops, saying they would go to Liaquat Bagh even at the cost of their lives. The students pelted stones on police vehicles. They were later allowed to go inside as part of the administrative decision.
Also on Sunday, CM Shahbaz chaired a high-level security meeting and vowed to bring to justice the culprits involved in the Rawalpindi tragedy.
The scheduled talks between a team of ulema and Punjab government could not take off in Lahore as the clerics refused to sit with two provincial ministers and some junior government officials.
As per details, a team of Ulema led by Islamic Ideological Council Chairman Allama Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi was scheduled to have talks with the government. JUI-S Secretary Information Maulana Asim Makhdoom, Maulana Younis and other Ulema were part of the team.
At the Civil Secretariat, the government team comprising provincial ministers Rana Mashood Ahmad Khan, Mian Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman and some junior officials turned up to participate in the negotiations.
But the ulema refused to hold talks with them in the absence of Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif. They also objected to the presence of low-ranking officials, saying that senior police and civil officials should have been invited.
The government team told them that the CM was busy chairing important meetings in Rawalpindi and hence was not available for this meeting. But Maulana Ashrafi reportedly insisted that the ulema would sit only with the CM and senior officers to discuss the sectarian issue.