CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 23 February 2019

Print Version    Email to Friend
Pakistan shocked by extrajudicial killing of family

ISLAMABAD (UCAN): “We condemn it in the strongest terms. If the victims were criminals, they should have been arrested. The law enforcement agencies should have taken the legal course of action,” Father Almas Silas of Sacred Heart Church in Sahiwal, Punjab province, Pakistan, said, reacting to the extrajudicial killing of four people by armed personnel of the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) on January 19. 
 
A husband and wife, their teenage daughter and a friend were killed in broad daylight when a team from the counter-terrorism force opened fire on their car in Sialkot district. 
 
“We condemn it in the strongest terms. If the victims were criminals, they should have been arrested. The law enforcement agencies should have taken the legal course of action. Killing parents in front of their children is the most heinous act imaginable. What police did was absolutely wrong. This is blatant state terrorism,” Faither Silas said. 
 
Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, expressed his shock in a Twitter post on January 19.
 
Khan wrote, “While the CTD has done a great job in fight against terrorism, everyone must be accountable before the law. As soon as JIT report comes, swift action will be taken. The govt’s priority is protection of all its citizens.”
 
The killings made headlines on news channels and social media sparking outrage and anger across Pakistan.
 
Three children, including two minors, who were also in the car miraculously survived the shooting, which was filmed and uploaded on social media by passers-by.
 
Police initially claimed that those killed were so-called Islamic State members who shot at security personnel when asked to stop. However, videos of the crime scene appeared to contradict the police version.
 
The Pakistani government has lodged a case against 16 CTD personnel and named a team of officials to investigate the matter.
 
Faither Silas spent the weekend listening to the concerns of his parishioners following the tragedy. He has run a security team of 13 young people to protect the church during Masses over the last six years.
 
“The phobia of looming terror has affected the whole society. The young volunteers on guard are directed to treat incoming visitors with respect. A single suspicious act can trigger a weapon,” he said.
 
In a video statement, Shehbaz Gill, a spokesman for Punjab chief minister, Usman Buzdar, said that all those involved in the raid were taken into custody on the orders of the prime minister.
 
Separately, opposition leader, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, “vehemently condemned the killings of innocent citizens at the hands of Punjab police in Sahiwal” and blamed the state government led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
 
“The killings of the citizens are vivid proof that the government of PTI has made Punjab a police state,” he said.

More from this section