Was there a Kharotabad cover-up?

Published: July 25, 2011
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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 journalist and former Express Tribune correspondent. He tweets as @shezadbaloch (twitter.com/Shezadbaloch)

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