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Inquiry into attacks on Ahmedis pulls off vanishing act
By Afnan Khan
LAHORE: The inquiry that was ordered by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to identify the security loopholes and the reasons behind the terrorist attacks on the worship places of Ahmedis has become long overdue and does not seem to be coming out of the works anytime soon.
According to the CM’s orders, the inquiry report was supposed to be filed within five days of the attacks, which left around 90 people dead and around 200 injured after terrorists stormed Ahmedi worship places at Model Town and Garhi Shahu on May 28. Rights activists and civil society members have accused the Punjab government for adopting a “neglectful and discriminatory behavior” towards the victims of the attacks.
The CM had set up a high-level inquiry committee, headed by Punjab Health Secretary Fawad Hassan Fawad and consisting of the provincial home secretary and inspector general of police.
The committee was given the task of discovering the factors that had contributed to the attacks. The issue has been put aside by the bureaucracy, as the inquiry report, which was due to be submitted before the CM by June 3, never surfaced and there is no government account on whether the negligence of government officials contributed to the loss of so many innocent lives.
A senior Ahmedi leader, requesting anonymity, told Daily Times that the community members were afraid and had felt exposed to danger a few days before the attack took place, adding that the minority group had made several requests to the government to provide them with Elite Force personnel to tackle any terror attacks, “but the government never listened to any of our demands and only provided a few guards who had no capacity to stand against such an attack”.
“But the thing that has further scared and confused the Ahmedis in the country is the fact that the government changed the station house officers of both the areas’ police stations a few days before the incident. Not only that, a magistrate visited the areas and removed all Ahmedi volunteers with weapons,” he said.
Missing compensation: He said that the compensation announced by the Punjab government was never given to those who had lost their loved ones and those who were severely injured in the attack. Munawar Ali, the spokesman for the minority group, told Daily Times that there were a number of discriminatory acts conducted by the Punjab government against the community, “which further increases the gravity of the tragedy”. He said that the terrorist had managed to kill so many people because of loopholes in security, “but the government downplayed the incident from the start”. He said the minority group was only allowed to depute a few volunteers inside the worship place, but they were not allowed to carry any firearms. None of the Punjab government officers, including government spokesman Pervaiz Rasheed and Senior Adviser to the CM Sardar Zulfiqar Khosa, commented on the issue. However, Fawad Hassan Fawad told Daily Times that he apologised for the inquiry not having been completed, adding that he could not complete it since he was busy with his own department’s issues. He said the inquiry should have been assigned to some other officer, “who would have worked on it”.