In the face of criticism from the Supreme Court and political spheres, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Wednesday commended the “professional” performance of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police referencing the headway made in the cases of Mashal Khan’s lynching and the murder of a minor girl in Mardan.
Almost a week earlier, the chief justice had criticised KP police, saying: “We had heard that the KP police have become very efficient in the province, but [it seems] your incapability has made you dependent on others […] that is why so much time is being consumed [in resolving the Mardan rape and murder case].”
The chief justice had also criticised the KP government for not having a functioning forensics laboratory in the province, which was said to have resulted in needless delays to the case’s progress.
The CJ had additionally taken notice of the murder of a third-year medical student — Asma — who was killed in front of her house in Kohat for rejecting a marriage proposal. The suspect in the case had fled to Saudi Arabia.
But the PTI chief, brushing aside the criticism, said on Wednesday that both the Mashal and the Mardan cases “have shown how a professional, model police force goes about its work efficiently and delivers solid results, despite media & political criticism”.
“After court verdict on Mashal case, KP police has once again shown it’s professionalism by bringing a murderous mob under the ambit of the law,” Khan wrote on Twitter. He noted that this was the first time in Pakistan that police has successfully brought the members of a mob to justice.
An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) earlier in the day had handed death sentence to one convict and life imprisonment to five in Mashal Khan lynching case. Twenty-six others were acquitted for want of evidence. Also today, a 15-year-old second cousin of the four-year-old Mardan girl found dead in a field was arrested by KP police for his suspected involvement in the alleged rape and murder.
KP police is a role model for other provinces to emulate, the PTI chief insisted.
Khan also eulogised KP police for apprehending the suspect in the Mardan child’s murder case “with just one spot of blood found [and] no other evidence”.
“KP police worked professionally to catch [the] culprit showing they have developed advanced forensic detection capability as well,” he said.
Taking a jab at Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who had praised his provincial authorities for arresting the suspected culprit in Zainab murder case in a publicised press conference, the PTI chief said the KP chief minister had not done any “political gloating”.
“This is the difference between KP’s professional police force & the highly politicised & criminalised police force[s] of Punjab & Sindh,” he concluded.
‘Justice not delivered’
Meanwhile, Mashal’s family did not appear satisfied with the court verdict, with his father Iqbal Khan telling BBC Urdu that he did not feel justice had been delivered as the court acquitted 26 suspects despite video evidence.
The victim’s mother, while speaking to DawnNews soon after the verdict was announced, said she was not satisfied with the judgement either.
“I am not satisfied with the judgement. All the arrested men were involved in the murder. They all arrived to kill my Mashal and after the killing, they congratulated each other in the video clips,” she said.
She added that the verdict had been “very discouraging” and that the family would challenge it in the high court.
“My son was murdered in the university and justice was murdered in court today.”
Imran Khan, whose party rules the province, had sent party leader Faisal Javed to visit Mashal’s family on his behalf.
Javed told DawnNews that he had been tasked to hear any concerns that Mashal’s family might have regarding the ATC judgement. Though he had claimed the family said they were satisfied with the verdict and the performance of KP police, KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak had said the provincial government would appeal the acquittal of the 26 suspects.
He had also added that the KP police is trying to arrest three absconding suspects.