In a relief to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his brother and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and several others, an anti-terrorism court has rejected a plea seeking their trial in a case involving killing of 14 supporters of Canada-based cleric Tahirul Qadri. Nawaz, Shahbaz, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Defence Minister Khwaja Asif were among 12 top government functionaries booked by Lahore police in the murder of 14 supporters of Qadri in June, 2014.
During an anti-encroachment operation by police outside the residence of Qadri, 14 people, including two women, were killed and over 100 suffered bullet injuries. Lahore’s Anti-Terrorism Court rejected the plea to try the premier, chief minister and 10 ministers, observing the court cannot summon a person in a complaint unless “direct documentary evidence” is furnished by plaintiff.
The court, however, summoned 125 officials, including Inspector General of Police Punjab Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera. The plaintiff presented 56 witnesses in support of the allegations.
Qadri who is also the head of Pakistan Awami Tahreek criticised the ATC decision saying: “The main plea to try the rulers in the murder case is not accepted by the ATC and lower level officials have been made scapegoat. The court has summoned those who implemented the orders but ignored the authorities who issued the orders to kill innocent workers. We will not accept sacrifice of goats.”
He said his party will challenge the ATC decision in the Lahore High Court.