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Police killings

The police are notorious for their brute use of force, torture, extrajudicial killings and encounters in which the victim is often labelled as the culprit or a terrorist. In the latest incident, a young man was shot dead by five policemen who opened multiple shots at his car in Islamabad.

The incident occurred late at night when the 22-year-old student was returning home when police stopped his vehicle at a checkpoint. Police claimed they intercepted a suspicious vehicle whose driver refused to stop and they opened fire a result. It was later revealed that police had mistaken him for another vehicle from a robbery bid. Police have defended their actions claiming they only fired at the tyres but the vehicle clearly shows he was shot 17 times from the front.

The incident must be highly condemned in all manifestations and has even reached parliament. Just a year ago, we witnessed the horrific killings in Sahiwal when the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) opened fire on the main motorway and killed three people including a woman and a minor girl. No action has been taken against them nor have the policemen given any punishment for their brutal actions.

The failure of the criminal justice system has emboldened the policemen to commit such actions. There is just an internal inquiry and suspension and most are acquitted and return to their jobs. This is why we have often witnessed incidents when police have brazenly killed suspects in fake encounters and have labelled them as criminals or terrorists to evade justice.

The government has failed to implement the highly-anticipated police reforms which it promised even before coming to power. To end the menace of extrajudicial killings carried out by law-enforcement agencies, it is necessary that a clear message must be given that there will be consequences. The most well-known case is of Rao Anwar and his associates who killed a young man in a fake encounter in Karachi and continues to escape justice.

The authorities must give a clear message that those responsible for such action will not be able to get away with their crimes. This is easier said than done as we have seen cases in which junior police officers have opened fire brazenly and murdered people. It is imperative that the government strengthens the justice system and also take action against police involved in excessive use of force.