ISLAMABAD: Minister for Planning, Development and reforms Dr Ahsan Iqbal Tuesday apprised the National Assembly that killing of civilians in Lahore during a protest demonstration was not vengeful rather it took place in retaliation to the fires opened on police personnel.
Responding to the criticism by the opposition members who also walked out of the House to protest the killings, Ahsan Iqbal said the incident was shocking and saddening and expressed solidarity with the victim families.
He said unfortunately the incident took place a day after the House showed exemplary unity on the national issue by backing the government on military operation in North Waziristan.
He said amidst such situation, no government would ever commit any such act that could trigger confrontation.
He told the House that concrete barricades had been placed around the Minhajul Quran Secretariat in Lahore in violation of the rules those were also hindering the police movement.
Ahsan Iqbal said as the police personnel reached there to remove the barricades, they were stoned that followed firing from inside the building and left some police personnel injured.
He said the civilians were killed in cross firing as the police personnel retaliated adding that the women were also used as human shield to bar the police entry into the building that claimed lives of two women.
He said Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif has already ordered judicial inquiry into the incident to fix the responsibility and also ascertain the factors those led to the tragedy.
He said the incident also left several policemen seriously injured as some of them were in critical condition and were being treated at hospitals.
He asked the House to decide as how the police should have acted after fires were opened on them. He said the inquiry would also probe as whether there was any miscreant who might have wanted to create bloodshed taking advantage of the situation.
The minister told the House that the Prime Minister had also taken notice of the incident and the chief minister was personally overseeing the inquiry.
He said the North Waziristan operation was also launched because it had been made no-go area for the people.
In response, Opposition Leader Khurshid Shah said the barricades have also been placed on other buildings and locations so why the barricades at the said site had been selected for action. He also criticized Punjab government for using force against the protestors of power outages and sought action against senior government officers for the incident.
PTI’s Arif Alvi also criticised police action against women. Sahibzada Tariqullah of Jamat-e-Islami condemned the incident and called for judicial inquiry into the incident.