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Women’s burial probe being covered up

03 September, 2008

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ISLAMABAD: Serious questions have now been raised over the possible outcome of the probe into the burying alive of five women in Balochistan.

Tariq Khosa, who was assigned to probe the gory incident, has been quietly stopped from going to Balochistan and made to sit in Islamabad, with a limited mandate to only monitor investigations. He would not be allowed to go and visit the scene of the crime.

An official said, ultimately the whole of Pakistan would be required to depend solely on the report of the Balochistan police, which, since the girls were buried some two months ago, has been making desperate attempts to cover up the issue by denying that it happened at all.

Serious questions about a possible cover-up are gaining currency because of the fact that the Balochistan government had maintained during the last two months that no such incident had taken place anywhere in the province.

The same police officers may now try to present their earlier lies as the truth in order to save face. A couple of days ago, Balochistan IG Asif Nawaz sent a report to Interior Secretary Kamal Shah in which he had claimed that no such incident had occurred at all.

A furious secretary had rejected this half-baked and bogus report and directed the IG to send another report based on facts. The second ill-prepared report too was rejected by Interior Adviser Rehman Malik on Monday in the Senate after terming it factually correct.

Now all of a sudden the same Balochistan cops have claimed to have arrested the killers and found the graves of the victims. IG Asif Nawaz has even attacked the English language media for giving a “sensational flavour” to the whole issue. The biased attitude of Asif Nawaz has led many to believe that the police would not conduct a fair investigation into the tragedy.

However, with mounting pressure from all sides, the lethargic Balochistan police bosses have suddenly become hyperactive and have started producing results. They not only claim to have arrested the accused, but the graves of the women have also been found. But the question which is not being answered is why the Balochistan police chief did not have such facts available to him two months earlier, and why he only moved to uncover the facts when the whole of Pakistan raised a hue and cry over this human tragedy.

Earlier, at the time of the appointment of Tariq Khosa as head of the investigation team, it was considered that his expertise would be more relevant to such a big probe, as he had served as the Balochistan IG and many thought that he would not let the real culprits off the hook if given a free hand to proceed.

The Interior ministry bosses are said to have informed Tariq Khosa that he would only be monitoring these investigations without visiting the scene of the crime, as under the police order 2002, the federal government cannot send its own officers for any probe into a province.

These legal complications may have become a big hurdle in the way of a fair and uncompromising probe into the tragedy as the appointment of Tariq Khosa was seen as a ray of hope for justice, as he is considered to be a cop who does not believe in pleasing the powerful and only follows his own conscience. Khosa had earned respect when he had conducted aggressive investigations into the Swiss visa scam which had finally led to closure of the embassy and transfer of all the diplomatic staff, including the ambassador, to their home country.

Talking to media, Tariq Khosa confirmed that he would be monitoring these investigations from Islamabad. He said there was no ill-will involved, as under the law he could not go and probe the issue in the province. However, Khosa said he was keenly following developments taking place at the scene of the crime and had already set guidelines for those who were now probing these killings.

He said in his absence he had given the names of certain police officers in Balochistan, who would do full justice to these investigations. These honourable officers would not succumb to any pressure. He maintained that so far he is satisfied with the performance of the policemen now probing the tragedy.

Khosa said he had asked the officers to get the DNA of the women whose bodies were taken out of the graves and then get a report from the doctors whether they were buried alive or were first killed and then put into the grave.

Tariq Khosa said the real problem with the honour killings is that in such cases, the father, brother or other relatives of the accused get an FIR registered and then they withdraw it after a compromise. He said unless the state becomes a party to such killings and courts refuse to compromise the killers would not be stopped.


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