Was there a Kharotabad cover-up?

Published: July 25, 2011

No action of any kind was recommended by the tribunal against the officials and this came as a major disappointment. PHOTO: AFP

The judicial tribunal tasked to investigate the Kharotabad incident has reached the conclusion, after holding hearings for a month, that all the five foreigners, including three women, who were killed by law enforcement agencies’ personnel,  were “well-trained terrorists” and had “strong links with terrorist networks” operating in Pakistan.

There were many journalists present at the crime scene but for obvious reasons no one came forward to testify. When I asked one of them why he hadn’t come forward, he said there was no point since nothing would be done, and it would not be sensible to pick a quarrel with the police and security forces, especially the Frontier Corps.

There is a common perception in the province that the paramilitary force enjoys more power than the chief minister. Most of its personnel are semi-literate and are not trained in dealing with the general public, with whom they often misbehave at checkpoints.

Police surgeon Dr Baqar Shah and journalist Jamal Tarakai, who showed courage and came forward, were humiliated and beaten up by police personnel. Clearly, this was a warning to others to not come forward.

In one of the hearings, officials showed a video clip in which one of the Tajik nationals was shown firing, and the impression given was that he was training somewhere for taking part in terrorist activity.

A burqa-clad woman, who it was suggested was the man’s wife, was also shown opening fire in a mountainous area which, according to officials, was in Waziristan.

Some other sketchy footage was shown in which only hands were visible, engaged in making suicide jackets and explosive materials.

The police claimed that they got hold of this footage from a hard disk seized from the foreigners.

Even if for the sake of argument it is accepted that the people who were killed were indeed terrorists, that still doesn’t justify their being killed since they were unarmed when they were gunned down.

The tribunal concluded by saying that FC colonel Faisal Shehzad and former capital city police officer for Quetta Dawood Junejo demonstrated incompetence in handling the situation while two police officials of the concerned jurisdiction were held mainly responsible for the incident.

Despite that, no action of any kind was recommended by the tribunal against the officials and this came as a major disappointment.

Shezad Baloch

Shezad Baloch

A research student at University of Wisconsin Madison's School of Journalism and a former Express Tribune staffer. He tweets as @shezadbaloch (twitter.com/Shezadbaloch)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Tribune Reader

    i dont know man, chechans in quetta sounds fishy to me, wanabe seperatists from the Russian caucauses in a province which is currently a hot bed for seperatist and anti state propoganda sounds very fishy to me, for all we know they had some minor alliance with one of those barbaric ( barbaric cause their mudering innocent settler civilians) baloch seperatist groups, and if u think Quetta under thr FC is bad, try travelling across Pakistan, whole country feels as if it is under mlitary occupation,here in Karaci, Pakistan Rangers have killed 100s of innocent people on ridiculous grounds and it wasnt until what happened at benazir park did the media notice, i myself have been a victim of ranger assault, i complained to their seniors and they were like i should be glad i didnt get shot, its a lot worse than u ever hear about.Recommend

  • Humayun

    Toothless ….!!!Recommend

  • noman

    Terming the martyred travelers as terrorists on the basis of a video showing them firing is too far fetched. On this basis all persons knowing how to fire a rifle can be termed as ‘ highly trained terrorists’. Military training and service is compulsory in many countries.

    The police and military/ FC officers will go unpunished as is our tradition of covering up and letting off the powerful free. SHAME ON US.Recommend

  • yousaf

    I do not know the who,how and why of the whole incident but in the picture is the man shown picking up some butcherd animal or what?Recommend

  • Amjad

    I am sorry guys but I would side with our Pakistani security personnel any day over the cowardly criminals who commit senseless acts of terror against innocent Pakistanis. When a group of Chechens illegally crosses into Pakistan and approaches a check post and refuses to heed instructions, who could possibly fault our security people. They have sacrificed themselves in the hundreds defending this nation against anti state terrorists and agents for foreign agencies.Recommend

  • My Name is Khan

    But what about the much bigger coverup in Abbottabad? Recommend

  • http://none Bangash

    I thought the tribunal’s report termed the five Chechens killed as innocent because no weapons were found on them and neither had they attacked the FC ?

    There were a lot of witnesses who came forward and testified that the five Chechens were innocent and were on their way to Iran for ziyarat.

    Pakistani security forces are incompetent and human rights abusers.Recommend

  • Awais Khan

    Terrorists or not the situation was handled barbarically. Everyone has a right to justice, shooting unarmed people, is not acceptable in any civilized society.Recommend

  • yousaf

    @Awais Khan you are very right in a “civilized society” barbaric murder is not acceptable.We on the other hand are more honour concious,for honour we can go to any extremes.A man kills his 6 daughters to save his honour,a young couple is brutally killed to save honour,every day this story is repeated over and over just to save the honour.all such murders are never considered barbaric causing the creation of a mindset where killing someone is just an event and no more.as laong as our honour is safe I assure you no harm can come to our civilization. Recommend

  • kazbanubaloch

    keep it up Shahzad
    hhahahahahhahaahahahahhaha good jokes have been said by I.G police.if they were citizen of USA then Pakistan knew how to safe them from such incidence unopporunitly they were chechans.Recommend